The Story of Colors / La Historia de los Colores: A Bilingual Storybook from the Jungles of Chiapas

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Date: 1999

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


Artist: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, author; Cinco Puntos Press

Confronting Bodies: William J. Ivey, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Date of Action: March 9,1999

Location: National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA

StoryofColors.jpg

Description of Artwork: The Story of Colors is a Mexican folk tale for children. It is based on a Mayan creation myth that addresses diversity and tolerance.

The Incident: Funding had been approved by the NEA in November 1998. After reviewing a copy of the manuscript and a biography of the author, the NEA budgeted $7,500 for the publication of The Story of Colors / La Historia de los Colores: A Bilingual Storybook from the Jungles of Chiapas, whose release date had been moved up to March 1999. But after a call from New York Times reporter Julia Preston on March 8, NEA chairman William Ivey, personally canceled the part of the grant that supported the publication of this book.

Results of Incident: The Lannan Foundation--the same organization that stepped forward to fund the Mapplethorpe exhibition after it too had lost NEA funding--promptly offered to reimburse Cinco Puntos Press for the money lost and continued to doubled it. The story made the major papers across the nation, and it also became big news in Mexico. Additionally, freedom of expression groups collaborated on a letter urging Ivey to reconsider his decision.

Source: Cinco Puntos Press 1999, NCAC