Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Laney art hit by ‘Phantom’

    A self-appointed art critic defaced a painting that was part of an exhibition on the seventh floor of the Tower building. “With all due respect to the artist and her patron, this painting and its theme do not belong on this floor, in this building, or anywhere on campus, OTHER THAN an art exhibit,” was appended to the painting, along with two pieces of red tape obscuring the artwork. It was signed “the Phantom.”
    The exhibit (June 10-July 25) was in response to a request by Laney President Elñora Webb that art be displayed during a campus event called “2014 White House Summit on Educational Excellence for African Americans.”
    The exhibit is the work of Art Department Chair Fan Lee Warren, who left a written reply to the Phantom: “Your defacement and censorship of my work are misguided, disrespectful and injudicious. The image and drawing that you have concealed and the piece that you have chosen to vandalize was created from historical documents.
    “They are based on photographs and individual encounters from the 1964–67 rebellions in Afro-American urban communities across America. Your ill-advised actions and remarks will not change the narrative; it’s much more complex than it appears.”
    Several denizens of the seventh floor were asked if they found the work offensive. Most replied no, and were surprised that someone would censor art. One senior administrator agreed that this was not the place for this kind of art. When asked if she could be quoted, the administrator replied adamantly, “No.”
    When Warren first noticed the defacement of her work she asked Webb if “I should take it down.”
    “It’s up to you,” Webb replied.
    Webb and Warren were both queried on whether the exhibit should get another viewing on campus. Webb noted how topical the subject matter was in light of Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Mo. Webb thought it would be a good idea to display the art in a space where viewers were given a chance to write responses to such questions as:
    >What does this art stimulate in your mind?
    >What feelings emerge when you consider the historical context?
    “Art makes us think,” said Webb. “We need these kinds of exhibits to inspire us.”
    Warren was less sanguine about restaging the entire exhibit (“It’s a lot of work”) but would consider perhaps displaying “a few of the pieces.”

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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