Don’t destroy people’s artwork

For some reason, the administration at Texas Southern University
recently painted over two really beautiful murals. They were created by
Harvey Johnson, a long time professor and my own drawing instructor. I
got my undergraduate degree from Texas Southern University. The art
department there was started by John Biggers, who developed a
program that centered a high level of social responsibility within your
art making.  Biggers was a formidable muralist and so creating a mural
became a central requirement for all students before  graduating.  Your work
was meant to reflect your culture and your community, and
murals have always been one of the most immediate forms for an artist to
carry out such a task. If you visit Hannah Hall on TSU’s campus you will
find a 3 story building filled with murals from graduating students
from the last 40 years or so. Some of them are wild Sci Fi landscapes,
some reflect the political climates of their moments, and many of them
are just plain gorgeous.

Mother's of the Father and the Son 1970

Dere's Han'writin on da Wall 1971

It really bothers me because I felt they
were two of the important murals
in the building. The two murals,  ‘Mother’s of the Father and the Son,
and ‘Dere’s Han’writin on da Wall’ were created in 1970 and 71
respectively. Harvey Johnson is the most tangible heir to John Biggers’
conceptual process,
and ideology and the destruction of this work was highly, highly
irresponsible. This all happened very recently, in the last few days I
believe, so I’m not sure at this point why they did it. I am most afraid
that this is only the first one to be
destroyed. Like I said there is a building full of really amazing
images, going back for quite a few years and it would a real
disappointment if we were to lose anymore.  Please feel free to contact
TSU’s president
and voice your concern about this.

 

FYI, there’s a really great interview with Harvey Johnson here .

also by Robert Pruitt

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One response to “Don’t destroy people’s artwork”

  1. If any of these artists are living, they may be able to get an injunction to prevent destruction, or damages for works already destroyed. See 17 U.S.C. 106A.

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