Remove the KKK Mural at the Blanton Museum of Art at UT

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The KKK mural at the Blanton Museum of Art completed by Vincent Valdez in 2016, is a divisive acquisition by the University of Texas because it is a symbol of hate speech. The mural's display was pushed back one year because the museum did not want it to coincide with the Trump election to avoid making a political statement. The artist maintains that he conceived of the imagery before the Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally and that the artwork was completed independently of current events. What kind of message are they trying to send with a 30ft Klan mural if not a political one? Who would paint or acquire a Klan mural and then craft a message that refuses to acknowledge a white supremacist rally and a provocative president? They claim the message is anti-racist and the mural is meant to expose the 'hidden' racism in American society. In reality, the imagery supports and affirms racism and terror because it is nothing more than a portrait of a hate group. 

The mural's acquisition contradicts efforts made by UT in relocating confederate monuments and renaming a dorm honoring a KKK member. The mural's $200,000 price tag is an insult to the desperate situation of the fine arts library collection which could have been restored and relocated with such funds. The mural is a monument to hate and could incite violence or counter violence on campus. The heartwarming, liberal rhetoric spouted by the museum staff and the artist does not match the terrorizing aesthetic of the mural. This makes the museum's talks, lectures, and press releases dangerous and manipulative because the original messages were aimed at people of color. Vincent's Spanish-Mexican ancestry does not absolve him of the responsibility of creating a racist monument, even if he claims to have had noble intentions. The artist merely wanted to boost his career and income by painting an edgy and provocative picture and the museum wanted to benefit from that attention.

The museum has failed to acknowledge how deeply this protest effected the exhibition and will not recognize any opposing voices. They have taken great lengths to suppress any rebuttal to the mural including lying to the press, giving out criminal warnings, and deleting comments from those who vocalize their distaste for the mural. The museum has used ideas and methods from this two-year protest to create a more ethical exhibition, yet they fail to acknowledge its existence claiming it 'never materialized'.

The curator, director, and artist should be held responsible and apologize to the public. The painting should be removed from view immediately to rot in storage or be destroyed. The mural's price tag should be matched by funding degrees, food and lodging, or creating a fellowship at the museum. UT should rescind all criminal warnings against students. 

-The funds solicited from change.org to not go to this protest. I believe the funds support the website itself or help to boost visibility for the petition. There are ways to participate in the petition without giving money if you choose.- 


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