Dispute Over Mural at Koreatown School to End With Artist Overseeing Changes
Artist Beau Stanton has agreed to make changes to a mural in Koreatown that’s attracted criticism from some activists but that also inspired many others opposed to political censorship to come to his defense.
The mural at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools is dominated by an image of actress Ava Gardner. It ran afoul of the Wilshire Community Coalition, a group led by Korean Americans, which objected to sun rays in the background. Its members associate sun rays, a common artistic motif, with the Japanese imperial battle flag, a hated symbol of that nation’s oppression of Korea during World War II.
In December, Los Angeles Unified School District officials quickly gave in to demands from the group by agreeing to paint over the mural. The group pronounced the background to be as offensive as a swastika and threatened legal action.
But the backlash to this decision was almost immediate. Artists including Shepard Fairey came to Stanton’s defense. Fairey said he would insist on the removal of his own mural from the school if Stanton’s were destroyed. Fairey’s mural of Robert F. Kennedy is a defining symbol of the campus. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 at the hotel that once stood on the site of the school.
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