By Dana LeMarbre
While traveling through the halls of the Sanders Administration Building several weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice the art work that covered the walls of the pedestrian plaza. What caught my eye was not only the uniqueness of the visuals, but the display of some historic figures that are unfavorable to American ideologies and should arguably not be displayed on the walls of an American University.
The lenticular images displayed by artist Richard Cutrona caught my eye for two reasons. First, the artwork is of a three dimensional quality, and who doesn’t like 3D? When viewing Mr. Cutrona’s art, many positions have to be taken in order to see and understand the image. It is kind of like being a small bird that pecks away at sunflower seeds from a feeder. Images of worldly events such as President Bush being told about the attacks of 9/11, while reading to school children and familiar images of Osama Binladin are clearly displayed through this cool and intriguing medium of lenticular art. Images such as these are important for us as American citizens to remember the tragedy’s that occurred on that fateful day in September of 2001.
The second reason I took interest at Mr. Cutrona’s art, is that some images were not so favorable to my eye. Although most of the art takes a little focusing and head turning to really capture the images, and some were direct and needed no squinting or the cocking of one’s head to absorb that three of the figures were person’s of question to any American.
Gathered in a small cluster on the top of one of the images were the busts of Kim Jong Ill, Mahoud Ahmadinejad and Benito Mussolini. Clearly these individuals represent ideologies unfavorable to not only Americans, but anyone with respect to human rights, equality and associations of a free and democratic society.
I just found it very odd that these individuals were displayed on the walls of an American University. I needed more answers as to why; just thinking of the prints as art and blowing it off wasn’t enough. The old cliché “art is left up to interpretation” was not going to cut it.
So I wrote the artist and told him I wanted more than just a visual of what he was thinking, or what his point might be. After a lengthy letter from Mr. Cutrona it was clear that he hooked a fish on his bait of imagery. The letter was more about him, how smart and important he was and less about the images on the walls of my campus. In all fairness to Mr. Cutrona, I find him like any other artist with some success or integrity, to be articulate, engaging and a bit complicated. After hearing about his disfavor for the Bush administration, its practices and legitimizations of wire tapping’s through the patriot act. It was clear that Mr. Cutrona’s dislike for George W. Bush’s tenure in the oval office was not to his liking, thus linking American personas, ideologies and perspectives to Mussolini, Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Ill.
How would these tyrants feel about having their pictures displayed in the halls of an American institution with no explanation of why they are there and what they represent?
Not everyone was a fan of George W. Bush, including myself, but to be connected with the likes of Ahmadinejad and the other two, thankfully deceased, leaders is questionable and unworthy of being hung on the walls of Fitchburg State University.
I am glad for Mr. Cutrona and his success as an artist, but what I am not glad about, is his way of sending his message or messages of distaste for an administration that clearly had some wrong doings in the eyes of some. but to link the Bush administration to the likes of Fascism and the direction of sustaining basic human rights, does not warrant the display of his ambiguous art to be displayed on the walls of an American University. I find Mr. Cutrona’s medium of visual art to be interesting and unique in nature, but to hide behind it with your political views in tow, lacks character, by not explaining why these individuals’ images have made it to Fitchburg State University and what messages they convey. This is a classic example of an artist leaning on the notion that art is interpretative and subjective and although I believe that to be true, just don’t connect your anti-American opinions to the likes of the three tyrants in your picture. I’m sorry, you have every right to have an opinion, just hang it on your own wall, not mine.