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Coffey: Droning On About The Facts

(10/03/13 2:00am)

As one of the art history professors and droning voices who defend the Orozco murals and the College's decision to restrict access to the Hovey murals, I feel compelled to offer a response to recent complaints about censorship published in The Dartmouth. This most recent lament is but one in a chorus of "dissenting" voices on this issue that have graced the pages of the paper since the 1970s. The latest round takes the novel tack of insulting Dartmouth students, characterizing them as grade-grubbing zombies in an attempt to rile them up about the issue. Since no actual research on the history of the murals or the College's response to them seems to have been done, I will here inform the campus readership of just a few things that might interest them.

Coffey: A Mural Imperative

(11/11/10 4:00am)

In public art controversy, the art in question is almost always the occasion for voicing other grievances. For example, when attacking the colonial legacies of racial inequality seem impossible, the easier and at times more productive thing to do is to criticize a work of public art and demand some form of public representation that would symbolically rectify what otherwise seems politically or economically intractable. Dartmouth College is no stranger to public art controversy. From Orozco's frescos, executed in 1932-33, to Walter Beach Humphrey's "Hovey Murals," completed in 1939, to Wenda Gu's "hair installation" occupying the library's Main Street in 2007-08, the College has witnessed periodic calls for censorship, often accompanied by race-baiting vitriol. Bizarrely, Roger Lott's editorial in The D ("Points in Perspective, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010) represents the first assertion that there "should" or "ought" to be controversy where none currently exists.

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