TOPEKA, Kan. – The image of an immigrant child clinging to her mother has been removed from a mural near the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site in Topeka.
Michael Toombs, the artistic director overseeing the project, said "we all have been touched by what is happening to our children" and initially was going to leave the image that artist bj McBride painted in protest of the separation of parents and children arrested at the U.S. border. But Toombs said he painted over the clinging child Monday because "this was not the place." The 130- by 30-foot (40- by 9-meter) mural tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended segregated education and faces a former all-black school in Topeka where the lead plaintiff's child was a student, The Kansas City Star reports.
"I could see the way things were starting to germinate in the media that the story was becoming more about the addition than about all the good creative community labor that it took to create the mural," Toombs said.
McBride said she "spontaneously" painted the child Friday and wasn't opposed to removing the image, which she later decided was "distracting."
"In a collaborative effort, any time the spotlight is put on one artist it is not good," McBride said. "I don't have any issue in celebrating all the artists and keeping the focus on what we came there to do."
Sarah Fizell, executive director of the nonprofit ArtsConnect behind the mural, said the clinging child didn't fit with the mission of the mural, which was was three years in the making. About 30 professional artists worked with children to paint the mural, and members of the public were invited to paint a portion as well. In all, about 2,000 people participated, including visitors from all over the world.
The mural is expected to be completed by the end of the week and celebrated by a community event that will feature a time lapse video of its creation, including a shot showing the mural with the clinging child followed by one with the child painted over.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com