Vandalization of sculpture questions whether they should be kept

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Editorial Board

 

The sculptures featured on Illinois Wesleyan University’s campus have been somewhat dividing. Some students love them, others are less than enthusiastic about them.

“I respect the artist and whatever message he wants to relay using these statues, but I don’t think they are the best fit for campus,” junior Loreto Delgado said.

Regardless of how you feel about the sculptures, what is unacceptable is the act of vandalism on Sunday night at 2 a.m. when one of the sculptures was pushed over.

“In the case of public sculpture, whether you like a piece or hate it, there is no excuse for someone wrecking the sculpture,” said professor of  the school of art, Kevin Strandberg. “It is the work of an artist that is on display here.”

It is important to understand that whether the vandalism was a message on students’ opinions on the sculpture or a prank, it is actually a crime. If the sculpture had been damaged, it would have needed to be repaired. That cost would pass down directly to the student body, and it wouldn’t be cheap.

“If the side of one of the steel welded sculptures got crimped as a result of vandalism, a large section would have to be cut out and a new sheet of steel would have to be welded in and the whole sculpture would have to be ground so that the surface would appear unified,” Strandberg said.

What might have been funny at the time to a small group of people would not have been anymore. Not only would we have to pay for the repairs, we would have to face the shame of what it means to deface an artist’s hard work.

There are drastic implications for the campus and the visiting artwork because of this vandalism. There has been talk among the student body about which of the sculptures they would like to see as a permanent addition to IWU.

“I would want to keep the red one in front of CNS,” said junior Shen Yee Choong. “The red statue really catches my attention the most and it also brightens up the campus.”

But if there’s no assurance that the sculptures would be treated with respect, why should the University move into purchasing one? We at the Argus would support making one of the sculptures a permanent addition to our campus. Two popular pieces, “Red Trunk” and the arch near Shaw Hall, we consider to enhance campus. Aside from drawing in visitors, college campuses are one of the premiere venues to display sculpture.

Hosting a piece of artwork should be a source of pride for Wesleyan. And with that pride should come with it the common courtesy to not disrespect the art, and the artist who made the piece.