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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Fine Arts Center town hall will address historic (and problematic) murals

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 4:40 PM

  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
contains a great deal of history — not just the items in its museum or the historical art pieces in its permanent collection, but also its own history as an institution. It celebrates its 100th anniversary next year.

But a lot has changed within the last century, and the FAC is not blind to the fact that aspects of its public art must be held up to modern scrutiny. Specifically, the FAC wants to address murals within the building that contain “problematic content,” according to Colorado College art professor Rebecca Tucker. This problematic content tends to relate to portrayals of race.

“They [the murals] are part of the historic fabric of our structure, and have been there since the 1930s,” she says, adding that “these are important pieces for us, part of our history, literally attached to our walls. They’re made by artists who are important in the region; they’re important to the FAC’s own history.”

However, the FAC understands that the historical significance of these murals is not the only important aspect of them, as modern interpretation has changed the way they’re viewed and received. While the FAC and Colorado College have had internal and campus conversations about how best to live with the murals, they have decided to open up the conversation to the community.

Their upcoming town hall, “Race, History and the Arts at the FAC and Beyond” is meant to give the public an opportunity to talk about these murals and what to do with them, in the context of a larger national conversation that has sprung up largely around Confederate statues and other such public art.

“I see this as an ongoing conversation about this really fundamental human question,” Tucker says. “How do we live with our past?”

While hiding the murals is an option, and the FAC currently uses curtains to keep them under wraps but accessible, it is not the only option. Tucker says they are open to community ideas, whether it means commissioning an artist to respond to the murals or approving a different, yet-unknown solution.

The town hall, co-hosted by the FAC and Colorado College’s Butler Center, will include four practitioners that Tucker hesitates to call panelists, who will provide different perspectives on the issue, but the conversation will largely be steered by community participants.

“We don’t have any easy solutions,” Tucker says. “I don’t think anybody right now has any easy solutions, but if there is a solution, it’s getting people together to talk about things that can be challenging.”

Attendees must RSVP for the town hall, which will be held at the Fine Arts Center’s restaurant TASTE on Sept. 24, 5 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

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