Alice Walker has entered the fray over New Deal-era murals at a public faculty in San Francisco that depict George Washington at Mount Vernon with black slaves in a single panel, a lifeless Native American at his toes in one other, and the scalp of an Indian dangling from his waist in a 3rd.
Last week, in a vote that was a compromise between preservationists and those that needed the murals painted over, the college board voted to save lots of, however cover “The Life of Washington,” 13 frescoes masking the entry hallway at George Washington High School. Victor Arnautoff, a Russian émigré painted them within the 1930s.
In an interview with a contract journalist that was posted on YouTube this week, Ms. Walker, a Pulitzer Prize winner for the novel “The Color Purple,” spoke out strongly in favor of preserving and viewing historic murals, even when they forged Native Americans and African-Americans in a adverse gentle. (Ms. Walker, who’s African-American, can be half Cherokee.)
“Why try to hide the reality of our history, which is a terrible one?” Ms. Walker sassist. “You know, if you really to really educate people, leave the stuff and then teach them what it means.”
Ms. Walker, who can be a poet and activist, criticized the stance that the pictures traumatize younger folks. Her daughter went to Washington High School and was not traumatized, she stated. “This feeling that everybody now is so tenderhearted that they can’t bear to know their history is ridiculous.”
In her sharpest remark, she stated, “It’s very ignorant and backward to think that you can erase history, erase reality by destroying art.”
Ms. Walker really useful that explanations be added placing the work in context: “If you cover things up, the danger is that you will end up in the same place again, and you won’t even recognize it.”
Steve Zeltzer, the video journalist who performed the interview, makes a speciality of labor points and is making a movie in regards to the preservation of the murals. His credit embrace the documentary “Halfway to Hell, the Workers and Unions That Built the Golden Gate Bridge.”
Ms. Walker said in that interview that she is always on the side of the artist. “The artist is the one who makes it possible for us to have any understanding of reality,” she said. She did not respond to a request by The New York Times for an interview.
Ms. Walker was in the news in December when The Times published a By the Book feature in which Ms. Walker listed “And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” by David Icke, as one of the books on her nightstand. She called it “a curious person’s dream come true.” Mr. Icke, a British writer, has promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and some readers and Jewish organizations criticized The Times for publishing the feature on Ms. Walker. She subsequently defended her words on her website.
Follow Carol Pogash on Twitter: @cpogash
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