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Nearly 70-year-old murals at college to be removed after complaints they depict too many white people

'Some of our students have even shared with us they didn't feel comfortable sitting in that space'

Image source: WJAR-TV video screenshot

Woke college students apparently strike again.

Seems a nearly 70-year-old set of murals at the University of Rhode Island is slated for the dust bin of history.

Image source: WJAR-TV video screenshot

Why?

We'll let Kathy Collins, the school's vice president of student affairs, fill you in on the reason.

"I have received complaints about the murals that [they] portray a very homogeneous population ... the persons painted and depicted on the wall are predominantly white, and that does not represent who our institution is today," Collins told WJAR-TV. "Some of our students have even shared with us they didn't feel comfortable sitting in that space."

Image source: WJAR-TV video screenshot

So now banners cover the murals, which were painted on plaster on two of the walls, the station said.

Image source: WJAR-TV video screenshot

"I think we have to recognize the horrible incidents [involving] George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and most recently Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during this ... heightened time, and we as an institution have to look at the systems in place across this institution that maybe are not representing who we are today and representing the true diversity of URI today," Collins added to WJAR.

What's the background?

When veterans returned from World War II and enrolled at URI, they and other community members raised money in memory of those who lost their lives in the war — and result was the construction of a modern student union, and Memorial Union was dedicated in 1954, the station said.

Arthur "Art" Sherman was a decorated veteran and member of the class of 1950, and he was asked to paint murals for new student union, WJAR said.

"Oh, I loved painting that, yeah," Sherman, now 95 years old, told the station. "I never had any formal education in painting, by the way; I just used to cartoon."

Image source: WJAR-TV video screenshot

The murals depict returning servicemen, a class reunion, a URI commencement, a beach scene, and students piled into a car donned in letter sweaters, WJAR said.

Image source: WJAR-TV video screenshot

"Well, it depicted that era," Sherman recounted to the station. "A lot of students, friends of mine, would come by and say, 'Why don't you do this, why don't you do that?' So, that's what I did, so everybody chipped in."

Then came the complaints

Collins noted to WJAR that she's been working for URI for the last four years and has received complaints from students about the murals — and the school decided it wanted to start fall classes without the murals in sight.

"We've made a really difficult decision as we aim for the university's future, and we think about who are our students today, and who are our students going to be tomorrow," Collins told the station.

But the artist's family doesn't agree.

Pamela Sherman, Art Sherman's daughter, told WJAR that her family doesn't agree with the decision to remove the murals.

"It's an opportunity for the University of Rhode Island to do the right thing," Pamela Sherman told the station. "It's an opportunity for them to capture a moment in time in their history."

Image source: WJAR-TV video screenshot

She added to WJAR that the perspective should be, "Let's look at our history, and let's maintain the timeline of that history over the many generations. We would love to see new artwork, but let's put them alongside and show a timeline of the evolution of this campus, the evolution of this university."

Art Sherman ought to know, as he ended up becoming a professor of physical education at URI, where he worked for 30 years, the station said.

When WJAR asked him what he thought about his murals being removed, he smiled and laughed.

"That's a good question. Time goes by, and things change," he said.

Image source: WJAR-TV video screenshot

But his daughter wasn't as diplomatic.

"It's terribly upsetting, and we grew up with those murals being there," Pamela Sherman told the station, adding that "we never want to forget our past."

Collins told WJAR that photographs of the murals "will be included in any celebration of ... the Memorial Union" and that the school will "always recognize" Sherman's work.

Nevertheless, his daughter expressed doubts.

"Wouldn't it be a mistake if we look back 100 years from now and say, 'Isn't it a tragedy that we lost this artwork?'" she asked the station. "It's like any work of art, especially a painting — seeing a picture of it [is] just no comparison [to] seeing it live."

(H/T: The College Fix)

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