Most of us remember having murals at our high schools. They usually contained simple things. The school mascot. Paeans to graduating classes past. The bloodied, decapitated head of the current president on the end of a spear.
What, you don’t remember that at your alma mater? Well, you’re clearly not a student at the MAAC Community Charter School in Chula Vista, California, where school officials are now answering a lot of questions after a mural depicting Trump a lá Kathy Griffin made the front pages.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the mural was painted last weekend at an event called Battlegroundz, a scholarship fundraiser during which both students and amateur and professional artists utilize their talents to help out the school and/or make a horrifyingly violent political statement. (Whichever works.)
Artist Sasha Andrade was responsible for the part of the mural containing Trump’s head. “The mural depicts three warriors, each with different types of dress. One appears to be holding a human heart and another wears a leopard headdress and is holding a spear. At its end is the severed head of Trump, with the spear’s tip protruding from his mouth,” the Union-Tribune noted.
Classy! Here’s the work itself before it was removed, which is obviously extremely graphic.
Viewer discretion, as always, is advised.
— The Hill (@thehill) May 5, 2018
The San Diego-area school, which serves 300 students ages 14-24, apologized for the mural, although not necessarily for the reasons you might think.
“We understand that there was a mural painted at the event this past weekend that does not align with our school’s philosophy of non-violence,” a statement from MAAC Community Charter School director Tommy Ramirez read.
“We have been in communication with the artist — who has agreed to modify the artwork — to better align with the school’s philosophy.”
Note there’s nothing about the fact that it was basically envisioning the death of the president. Forget about the political implications of that at a school run by taxpayer funds. It doesn’t “align” with the “school’s philosophy of non-violence.” One can guess their reaction might have been slightly different had the head on the end of this spear been Barack Obama’s.
Unfortunately, the school’s philosophy of non-violence didn’t have them asking questions about the grotesque mural before people in the community did. They complained to the school, and local television station KUSI-TV soon dedicated coverage to the mural, which seemed to put the school on the defensive..
By Wednesday, the school had covered the mural in black plastic. By Friday, the cover was plywood and access was blocked by a vehicle.
“Obviously there’s a lot of concern over what is depicted,” said Manny Rubio, public information officer with MAAC’s parent district, said about the numerous phone calls. “Because of that, they’re going to rework it. Our ultimate goal is that instruction continues and is not interrupted.”
“Francia Baluca, marketing and communications manager for MAAC, the nonprofit that oversees the school, said officials were looking into questions raised about the mural, including whether anyone knew of its content before it was painted and when school officials first became aware of it,” the Union-Tribune reported.
As for Sasha Andrade, she wasn’t available for comment Friday. However, she was quite talkative earlier in the week, when she bragged about the mural on Facebook.
“They can try to #censor it but here it is guys!!!!” she said on Wednesday, adding, “lets (sic) make this #viral lol who wants some stickers???” The message was topped off with hashtags like “#urwelcome” and “#freedomofexpression.” She later said comedian George Lopez had liked the mural and signed that post with the hashtag “#firstamendment.”
Just in case you were wondering whether Andrade had a sudden change of heart, the mural was still her Facebook banner. Apparently, her values haven’t brought themselves into alignment with the MAAC Community Charter School’s philosophy of non-violence yet. Give her time, I suppose.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the president depicted in grotesque artworks that involve him being dead in some way, shape or form, usually involving decapitation. Whether it’s Kathy Griffin’s infamous effigial head incident or the Hieronymus Bosch-like portraits of Trump and various administration officials Jim Carrey seems fond of posting to Twitter these days, there’s enough of depressingly-violent Trump artwork out there to satiate even the most benumbed of “Faces of Death” devotees.
It is, however, the first time one of these abominations has appeared at a public school. That vile fact is reason enough to condemn this mural in the strongest terms. The fact that taxpayer funds were possibly involved in the creation of the painting — and almost certainly the venue in which it was painted — merely adds to the outrage. Perhaps it’s time that the Secret Service had a discussion with Ms. Andrade about just how far her “#firstamendment” privileges go when it involves tacitly calling for the assassination of the president.
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