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A really interesting story is coming out of UCSD about a new mural that will be unveiled at noon today.
Mexican-American and Latino students in the campus’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán , or MEChA, commissioned a mosaic mural celebrating Latino culture at UCSD and in San Diego, called “Chicano Legacy 40 Años.”
Writing for CityBeat, Jill Holslin said the mural represents more than the reflection of the university’s Latino population:
As the first permanent art installation at UCSD to celebrate the history of a minority community, the mosaic pays homage to the oft-forgotten history of UCSD’s political activism and struggles for educational equality.
Working with the students, artist Mario Torero created the mural in a style similar to his in Chicano Park. He made a mural-sized canvas and the university hung it temporarily in 2009. But with the racially offensive events at UCSD after last year’s off-campus “Compton Cookout” mocking Black History Month and invoking Ku Klux Klan symbolism, the university changed its mind about Torero’s mural being temporary, according to the Union-Tribune.
There’s another interesting wrinkle. Usually, public art at UCSD is commissioned and installed by the renowned Stuart Collection of contemporary public art, which raises money to hire world-class artists to make pieces for the campus. This mural is the first piece of permanent public art to “break through a nearly three-decade monopoly held by the internationally acclaimed group of sculptures and installations funded by the Stuart Foundation and private donors,” the U-T says.
“We’ve always said we’re not against what (the Stuart Collection) is doing,” said literature professor Jorge Mariscal, who has worked closely with the students. “If they want to have their gallery of high art, that’s fine, but leave a little space for people who don’t know what’s hip in New York and Paris.”
The Stuart Collection director, Mary Beebe, said part of the agreement between the collection and the university is that the organization does exert some creative control over what kind of art goes on campus. It wasn’t clear in Beebe’s quote below where she sees the Torero mural fitting:
We have to protect the quality of the collection. If things of much lesser quality start popping up all over the place, then our artists are not going to want to put their work there. We don’t want to water down the campus. I know everybody wants art, but the agreement says that we get to decide what kind.