A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children
depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.
The project's leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after
complaints about the children's ethnicity. But the school's principal
says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with
The "Go on Green" mural, which covers two walls outside Miller Valley
Elementary School, was designed to advertise a campaign for
environmentally friendly transportation. It features portraits of four
children, with a Hispanic boy as the dominant figure.
R.E. Wall, director of Prescott's Downtown Mural Project, said he and
other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on
the painting at one of the town's most prominent intersections.
"We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander
from their cars," Wall said. "We had children painting with us, and here
come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics)."
Wall said school Principal Jeff Lane pressed him to make the children's
faces appear happier and brighter.
"It is being lightened because of the controversy," Wall said, adding
that "they want it to look like the children are coming into light."
Lane said that he received only three complaints about the mural and
that his request for a touch-up had nothing to do with political
pressure. "We asked them to fix the shading on the children's faces," he
said. "We were looking at it from an artistic view. Nothing at all to
do with race."
City Councilman Steve Blair spearheaded a public campaign on his talk
show at Prescott radio station KYCA-AM (1490) to remove the mural.
In a broadcast last month, according to the Daily Courier in Prescott,
Blair mistakenly complained that the most prominent child in the
painting is African-American, saying: "To depict the biggest picture on
the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why?"
Blair could not be reached for comment Thursday. In audio archives of
his radio show, Blair discusses the mural. He insists the controversy
isn't about racism but says the mural is intended to create racial
controversy where none existed before.
"Personally, I think it's pathetic," he says. "You have changed the
ambience of that building to excite some kind of diversity power
struggle that doesn't exist in Prescott, Arizona. And I'm ashamed of
Faces in the mural were drawn from photographs of children enrolled at
Miller Valley, a K-5 school with 380 students and the highest ethnic mix
of any school in Prescott. Wall said thousands of town residents
volunteered or donated to the project, the fourth in a series of
community murals painted by a group of artists known as the "Mural
The public art, funded by a $5,000 state grant through the Prescott
Alternative Transportation Center, was selected by school students and
"The parents and children love it," Lane said.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/06/04/20100604arizona-m...
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