Nearly 70-year-old murals set to be taken down at University of Rhode Island for lack of diversity

by Jordyn Pair · Sep 8th, 2020 3:59 pm
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Last Updated Sep 9th, 2020 at 11:47 am

Murals painted nearly 70 years ago at University of Rhode Island is slotted to be taken down after students complained about the lack of diversity in the paintings.

The murals, dedicated in 1954 and dubbed "The Memorial Union," shows a class reunion, a university commencement, a South County beach scene, and servicemen returning to Kingston, Rhode Island, where the school is located.

Vice President of Student Affairs Kathy Collins said the school has received complaints about the murals' lack of diversity.

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

The murals were originally created by Arthur "Art" Sherman, who graduated from the university in 1950 and is now 95 years old.

"Well, it depicted that era," said Sherman. "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."

Sherman's daughter, Pamela Sherman, said her family does not approve of the murals being removed.

"It's an opportunity for the University of Rhode Island to do the right thing; it's an opportunity for them to capture a moment in time in their history," she said. "...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, let's show it as a timeline and how it's changed over the years."

The murals are currently covered by big banners while the university decides what to do with the space.


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