“One issue of many, is the fact that the depictions of Black people are completely inaccurate. Regardless of what story is being told, overexaggerating Black features is not OK and should not be tolerated. White colonizers who are responsible for the horrors of slavery should not also be depicted as saviors in the same light,” they said.
On Friday, the attorneys for both sides offered different intepretations of the Visual Rights Act at a hearing held at Vermont Law School, attended by about 150 students and staff.
When passing the act, Congress did not intend to compel an institution to display artwork that it no longer wishes to display, said Justin Barnard, a lawyer for the school. The second issue is whether erecting a wall could create environmental conditions that will cause the murals to deteriorate over time, he said. While Barnard admitted that the school did not consult with an art conservator, he said it’s not required to do so. The Visual Rights Act is not about the preservation of art work to protect it over time, he said.
Kerson’s lawyer, Steven Hyman, disagreed, saying the purpose of the statute is not about the regulation of art but about “culture and preservation of art.”
“They can’t take steps because they don’t like the art anymore and harm the reputation of Sam Kerson,” he said.
The school’s plan is to put up a wall, permenently blocking the mural from being seen, “and if deterioration happens, so what?” Hyman said.
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