A painting of the George Floyd Roils Catholic University

In the summer of 2020, shortly after the murder of george floyd , Kelly Latimore, a white artist who grew up surrounded by images of a w...


In the summer of 2020, shortly after the murder of george floyd, Kelly Latimore, a white artist who grew up surrounded by images of a white Jesus, decided to do a course correction. He would paint the Virgin Mary and Jesus with golden halos encircling their heads – and both would be black.

Additionally, his image of Jesus would resemble Floyd, a black man who had been killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.

The painting, titled “Mama,” attracted little attention in February after a copy was installed at the Catholic University of America’s law school in Washington. But in November, The Daily Signal, a conservative website, published an article on the work and on the university’s recently released Diversity and Inclusion report, and the students created a petition calling for its removal. This month, the painting was stolen.

The university replaced it in November with a smaller copy – the school’s policy was “not to cancel speakers or prevent community members from speaking,” the university president said , John H. Garvey, in a press release. declaration after the theft – but now this copy too has been stolen. And the student government has passed a resolution calling for a ban on all other labor exhibitions on campus, citing religious objections.

The debate over whether a private institution has the right to post or remove work that some students find offensive is a debate that has spread across the country in recent years. In 2019, students at Mary Baldwin University, a private liberal arts college in Staunton, Va., Objected to an art exhibit in a college gallery that included Confederate images. The show was closed within 48 hours of its first. And earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that Vermont Law School could cover two murals that some students considered racist.

While Garvey initially defended the decision to exhibit the work, he apologized in a statement Monday for the “confusion” the painting had created and vowed to carefully consider how to replace it. (An investigation into the two thefts is ongoing, the university said.)

“Many saw the figure in Notre Dame’s arms as a deified George Floyd,” the statement said. “This interpretation has led to accusations that the work was blasphemous, which is contrary to the respect due to God and his holy name. Whatever your interpretation, it has created unnecessary controversy and confusion, for which I am sorry. “

The law school took the position that the painting portrayed Jesus, not Floyd, pointing to religious symbols such as the Greek letters in the halo which signify the divinity of Jesus. But Latimore said he was created to mourn the death of Floyd.

University student Blayne Clegg says Inside Higher Ed earlier this month the painting was offensive because “Christ was likened to another specifically identifiable human being.”

Latimore, 35, said he always answered “yes” when asked if the painting represented Jesus or Floyd.

“It’s not a scenario of either one,” he said in a phone conversation this week. “Is this George Floyd? Yes. Is it jesus? Yes. There is something sacred in every person.

The artist said someone from the university requested printing of the piece for the chapel earlier this year – and granted free permission. When asked if the university has a formal art review process and, if so, if “Mama” has followed it, a spokesperson for the university, Karna Lozoya, said the university “currently does not have an arts policy.”

The campus ministry office, which handed the painting to law school in February, did not respond to a request for comment.

After the second copy of the painting was stolen earlier this month, the student government passed a resolution calling for the removal of all images of “Mama” from university buildings, calling the work “blasphemy, offensive and at the very least confusing”. He called on the university to replace the paintings with works that “would produce a portrayal of the African American community in a non-political and non-controversial way.”

Garvey, the president of the university, said in a statement Monday that the wall outside the law school chapel would remain blank while the university considered a replacement.

Nicholas Perez, program director at PEN America, a free speech organization, praised the university’s decision to quickly replace the artwork after the initial theft. But the students’ resolve to ban painting and the university’s decision not to defend the artwork were concerning, he said.

“The university should try to get the board back together quickly,” he said. “Getting robbed without a replacement looks like an act to chill free speech on campus.”

Latimore, who painted inspiring black figures such as the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr., the abolitionist Frédéric douglass and civil rights activist and congressman John lewis, said in an interview in April with The magazine of the Christian century that in “Mama” he made the decision to change the traditional style of the Pietà to draw attention to “prayer and action”. Rather than looking at the body of Jesus, the Virgin Mary looks at the viewer.

She asks, ‘What are you going to do to keep this from happening? “Said Latimore.

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Newsrust - US Top News: A painting of the George Floyd Roils Catholic University
A painting of the George Floyd Roils Catholic University
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