Here is a story that demonstrates some of the issues that can arise when a mural touches a deeper seeded issue in the community. Some community residents got offended when the central image in an Arkadelphia mural was “too dark-skinned” for them. Some people working with the artist even suggested that he should “lighten her hue.” This is despite the fact that Arkadelphia has a large African American population. We are happy to report that the artists are holding firm and not making any changes as of now. But the bigger issue is still exposed. Would the woman have been “controversial” if she was white or light-skinned? Aren’t our media and advertisement already over saturated with white people? Again, the power of public art is demonstrated to bring out strong responses and even the deep-seeded racism that lies within some of us. There is now an opportunity to address these issues and create a greater understanding of our neighbors, if the citizens of Arkadelphia take the time to do so.
A community mural that was supposed to unite a Clark County town ends up causing some controversy. Residents in Arkadelphia met today and expressed some concern over the mural not accurately representing the community.
The mural features faces of every age, race and ethnicity but it is the largest figure that had some Arkadelphia residents concerned about just how diverse this mural is.
“We would do exercises that he had kind of developed to get people to talk about what they felt represented our community, and what is important about Arkadelphia,” said Yvonne Saul, one of the designers for the mural.
Saul never expected some residents to have an issue with the largest character being African American.
“I mentioned what had been mentioned to me, and as a project manager It’s my responsibility to bring anything good, bad or indifferent to Dave because he’s the master artist,” said Farrell Ford, the project manager.
Ford would not elaborate on what exactly residents said but in an e-mail sent to one of the designers she writes:
“I have gotten a few concerning the skin color of the main figure…I have suggested to Dave that the symbolic figure…be toned down just a bit,” wrote Ford.
Saul believes considering Arkadelphia’s demographic the mural is a perfect depiction of the community.
“I feel like this is a work of art and that it is something that should represent our community at large, and if you took a blend of our entire community you probably would come up with a figure that would have a darker complexion,” said Saul.
But she says if you focus on race you’ll miss the profound meaning of the mural.
“I think she represents an idea a spirit a hope for our children and for the future,” said Saul
Designers say that the mural will not be changed, especially this late in the process. It is set to completed between October 15th and 17th.