After months of debate, threats of lawsuits and allegations of
education code violations, Gavilan College is making its
mural the centerpiece of a refurbished art lecture hall.
After months of debate, threats of lawsuits and allegations of education code violations, Gavilan College is making its controversial “Enduring Wage” mural the centerpiece of a refurbished art lecture hall.
Gavilan received $15,000 of federal money to upgrade its multimedia equipment in Art Lecture 101, a classroom college officials admit has become little more than a holding area for old teaching materials and outdated technology.
Now the school will turn the room, which houses courses such as art history and music appreciation, into what it is calling an expressive arts center.
The hotly debated mural, which draws on both whimsical and dark images to depict the plight of low-wage earners, will be mounted on the front wall of the classroom. As the remodel of the hall nears completion, other pieces of art will fill the side walls of the room.
“The idea is to create a space for the interaction of all creative forms,” Gavilan music teacher Art Juncker said. “Putting the mural in the front of the room fits in with that.”
The mural’s creator, Gavilan art instructor Arturo Rosette, said he was “absolutely” pleased by the expressive arts center project and said he believed having the mural hang in the room was a positive solution for everybody. He declined to comment further.
The mural, which remains on display in the school library, was originally destined to hang permanently in the Student Center at Gavilan. But when the piece’s content was unveiled last year, campus and community tensions were triggered.
Among less controversial images, “Enduring Wage” depicts upper-class individuals sitting on toilets and defecating on huddled masses. The umbrella intention behind the artwork was to portray the economic view of the minimum-wage earner looking up the ladder of success, Rosette and students who helped create the piece have stated.
Others didn’t see it that way.
Jack in the Box Inc. threatened to sue Gavilan if the image of its large-headed mascot was not removed from the controversial mural. Also, the Associated Student Body opposed hanging the mural in the Student Center, since some students found the content offensive.
“The ASB didn’t really get an opportunity to give much feedback on this, but I think it’s going in an appropriate place now,” said Gavilan student senator Laurie Head. “It can serve an educational purpose there, and I’d be inclined to think a lot of students would agree with me on that, based on discussions from the past.”
The ASB was more territorial when the mural was destined for the Student Center. Gavilan charges its students a fee earmarked for Student Center upkeep, triggering ASB rights protected by state education code.
At one point, the college considered putting the mural up for auction, but Rosette and his students asked for that not to happen. “Enduring Wage” is estimated to be worth $2,500.
In November, the Gavilan school board washed its hands of the controversy by allowing Rosette and his students to find a new place on campus or in the community where the piece could hang.
“Putting the mural in this room was the solution that seemed to please everybody. It’s going to improve the aesthetics of the room and it will serve an educational purpose,” said Fran Lozano, the school’s dean of liberal arts.
The hall will feature artwork by students and community members, but the dominant focal point will certainly be the 14-foot-high, 48-foot-wide mural.
By the end of next week, the room will have a projector with a remote control and a special lens for large classrooms, a CD/cassette player, a retractable movie screen, a secured storage cage and an audio/visual control panel.
The school could not afford to buy new speakers with the grant money, but is still managing to improve sound in the hall by constructing acoustic panels on the side of the room.
On the acoustic panels will hang student artwork. Sculptures could also be brought in for display at the front of the room, Juncker and Lozano said.
The Expressive Arts Center will continue to house courses such as music appreciation and art history. After the remodeling, it will more effectively hold music performances, one-act plays, art shows, poetry slams and other avenues for expression.