Artists Pamela J. Smith and R.E. Wall, also the project’s director, sit in front of their “Go on Green” mural on Wednesday outside Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott. (photo by Matt Hinshaw/(Prescott) Daily Courier, via

I can’t believe this is happening in 2010, but then again, it is Arizona. From the Arizona Republic:

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity. But the school’s principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

Local councilman Steve Blair is partly responsible for the atmosphere of intolerance in Prescott, Arizona. He is on record as saying that diversity is a word “I can’t stand,” and “Art is in the eye of the beholder, but I say [the mural] looks like graffiti in LA.” He obviously doesn’t know what graffiti is but I think he’s trying to make a comparison to the Chicano Mural Movement that began in 1960s LA and was tied to the local civil rights movement.

The sketch for the original mural (via

Wonkette has a scary interpretation of this controversy. The pundit sees it as the tip of the iceberg:
Remember where you were, when you could still laugh about teabaggers and racists and Arizonans, because funny time is almost over. If the unemployment keeps up — one in five adult white males has no job and will never have a job again — and people keep walking away from their stucco heaps they can’t afford and the states and cities and counties and towns keep passing their aggressive racist laws to rile up the trash even more, shit’s going to very soon become very bad, and whether it’s the National Guard having wars in the Sunbelt Exurbs against armies of crazy old white people who are finally using their hundreds of millions of guns, or whole Latino neighborhoods burned to the ground the way the Klan used to burn down black neighborhoods a century ago, we are in for a long dark night and no light-colored paint is going to fix that.

I somehow think the Wonkette commentary is right. Things are going to get worse before they get better. I wouldn’t be surprised if art becomes one of the most visible and public battlegrounds for the fight between the multiculturalists and their detractors.

hat tip

UPDATE: Councilman Steve Blair has been fired by KYCA radio station.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

4 replies on “Arizona School Demands Black/Latino Faces On Mural Be Whitened”

  1. the more I read about this situation the more worked up I get. I think my favorite quote is “diversity is a word I cant stand” classic

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