Twenty vinyl records representing people of color who who were victims of police brutality and gun violence hung from a tree near the retired Prospector Pete statue, in a politically motivated art piece by senior studio art major Ashley Galvan.
“#Paused,” Galvan’s statement piece, is not only a condemnation of white supremacy but also a response to the sudden firing of University Art Museum Director Kimberli Meyer, according to the Galvan. It was first displayed Oct. 15 and will remain for several days.
Artist Lauren Woods’ project “American MONUMENT,” featuring over 25 record players with audio from police brutality cases, was scheduled to open Sept. 9 at the UAM. Prior to the piece’s opening, Meyer was fired and Woods has “paused” the records ever since.
“Not many individuals on campus knew about [the firing], so I found that there was a problem with people being ignorant to something that was happening right under our noses,” Galvan said. “I wanted to open their eyes to a problem that needs to be addressed.”
A problem solving project, assigned in an Art in Public Spaces class, is what sparked Galvan’s idea for the record installation piece. When Galvan initially pitched the idea for what she wanted to create, she was “expecting it to be rejected” due to the controversial nature of the piece.
Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, the dean of the College of the Arts, said she believes student art is a healthy way to communicate perspectives.
“I support these student exhibits and appreciate the university facilitating them,” Parker- Jeannette said in an email.
Due to the project’s display being in a highly trafficked area, many students and faculty members have stopped to look at the records. Senior communication studies major Cyrus Peinado interpreted the records to be a nod to past and present treatment of people of color.
“I don’t know if I’m reading into it or not, but I think since it’s [about] the death of people of color and it’s hanging from strings, I believe it’s representing … modern day lynchings,” Peinado said.
Junior communication studies major Natalie Sanchez understood the artwork to “represent a broken record of how many shootings there are.”
While the creation of the project mainly centralized around the firing of Meyer, Galvan said she is glad that students interpreted “#Paused” in different ways.
“I knew that there was deeper meaning [of the project] for myself,” Galvan said, adding that it also addresses systematic oppression of people of color. “This form of police brutality is just another form of oppression for black lives.”
Across the lawn from Galvan’s exhibit Monday, a man, who had brought a large bible and set it on a stand adjacent to the campus bookstore, drew a large crowd of angry students after loudly voicing some of his opinions on POC, religion and sex.
“It was kind of perfect, you saw the polar opposites of the spectrum: you had this one radical individual screaming at people, where as [my art] is a silent scream,” Galvan said.
She said that although her artwork was subtle, it had as much to say as he did.
“If he has a platform, we should also have a platform to speak,” Galvan said.