Onward We March
Artist: Robin Harris
Date of Action: February 2020
Location: Trumbull Library
Medium: Public Art
Confronting Bodies: City government official, First Selectman Tim Herbst
Description of Artwork: The painting shows Mother Teresa alongside feminist icons like Gloria Steinem and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.
The Incident: The painting was ordered taken down by a city government official, First Selectman Tim Herbst. But even though the library received complaints about the placing of the famous Catholic nun alongside Sanger, Herbst claimed that the town received a letter contending that the painting infringes copyright by using Mother Teresa’s image. Library Director Susan Horton told the Trumbull Times that there was “no proof that the copyright is valid,” and that members of the library board disagreed with the decision to remove the painting. It was removed nonetheless. If using images of public figures in paintings constituted a copyright violation, it would be impossible to create even an admiring portrait of a historical figure like Mother Teresa much less a political critique.
Last week Herbst stated to the Connecticut Post. ”As soon as I get an agreement, which is standard operating procedure for other town buildings, it goes back up,” Friday March 6th the painting was once again exhibited.
The painting was vandalized on March 11th, during a Library Board of Trustees meeting. The owner of the painting, Richard Resnick, decided not to press charges for the damage; "I am sorry for the person who felt so compelled and will not press charges for property destruction. I believe that those who object have misunderstood the important message that the painting represents." Resnick stated in Trumbull Times.
As a comment, Herbst stated that the vandalism was what he had been afraid would happen to the controversial piece and explained that it was the reason why he wanted an indemnity agreement in place and insurance on the collection.
Results of Incident: The painting was removed and reexhibited. But it’s not clear that the controversy is over. Town lawyer Robert Nicola is apparently advising the town to take down all of the paintings in the collection, pending some kind of arrangement between the town and Richard Resnick, the owner of the paintings.
After Questionable Copyright Claim, Public Library Removes Mother Teresa Painting, MARCH 4, 2015 NCAC.org, BY SUNNA REITOV KORPE
Controversial Mother Teresa painting back at Trumbull Library, CT Post, By Keila Torres Ocasio Published 10:02 pm EST, Friday, March 6, 2015
Controversial painting defaced, owners speaks out on vandalism, Trumbull Times, By Kate Czaplinski on March 11, 2015