LETTER: Mural Project’s Aim Betrays Process of Art 

Shane Pomajambo, director of the Washington-based Art Wino gallery, was quoted as saying of work the Richmond Mural Project he curates: "I do not want political views or religious views. I want them to be family friendly and broad-ranging".

That is a really amazing thing to hope for, but to claim that a piece of art can be devoid of political or religious views betrays the process of art. Art is made by human beings, and accordingly, art that is created by such human beings will be made, always, from their own point of view, which will be reflective of their own sociological lens of the world, which will always be made up of their own interpretations of political and religious views. This may be more pronounced in some work than others.

Secondly, every action has an inherent political, moral and perhaps religious repercussion. The Richmond Mural Project is being partly sponsored by Altria, a tobacco company with a long history of involvement in both the economic and political situations of Richmond, and largely the world. To support such an institution makes a political statement and a moral statement.

As we move into a world where artists paint for organizations that are supported by powerful corporations, let us not lose sight that despite what we feel is the intended statement, a statement exists by our action, regardless of if we choose to see it or not.

Third, the idea that de-contextualizing the action, the product of art, from the basis of funding, and the history of this city — the idea that this is somehow "family friendly" and "broad-ranging," is a moral judgment by one person, based again on the idea that product can be dissociated from the process.

I do not find this dissociative process to be the kind of thing I would want to teach my daughter. Nor do I find its explicit removal of politics and religion, perhaps the two most powerful subjects of human development, responsible for so much passion, and yet so much suffering in life, to be broad-ranging.

Somewhere, in the race to put paint to wall, people seem to have forgotten the purpose of art: to inspire, to reflect possibilities back to the viewer of life itself and to show a point of view. When we claim to eliminate the personal lens of the artist in an effort to make a broader appealing art, what we actually do is betray the human who made it, his or her experiences, and then betray every human being who views it, in their capacity of feeling, thinking and experiencing.

Gary Llama
Richmond

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