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{{Display censorship incident
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====Date: [[:Category:1992|1992]]====
|ongoing=no
 
|year=1936
 
|region=North America
 
|artist=Victor Arnautoff ('Life of Washington' murals)
 
|subject=Political/Economic/Social Opinion
 
|confronting_bodies=San Francisco Board of Education
 
|medium=Painting, Public Art
 
|date_of_action=December 2018-June 2019
 
|location=San Francisco, CA
 
|description_of_content=“Life of Washington” is a mural comprising thirteen panels in fresco on the life of George Washington that depict him in both real and imagined scenarios. It was painted by Russian-American painter and Stanford professor of art Victor Arnautoff in the 1930s (with assistance from artists George Harris and Gorden Langdon) and completed in 1936 at the newly built George Washington High School in San Francisco.
 
  
Funded by the Works Progress Administration's (WPA) Federal Art Project, the murals were Arnautoff’s largest New Deal commission and one of the largest ensembles of New Deal artworks at a single site. Arnautoff was a well-known muralist, having painted other WPA funded projects including murals at Coit Tower where he was Technical Director of the project.
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====Region: [[:Category:North America|North America]]====
  
Arnautoff presented the murals as a counter-narrative to high school history texts of the time. The murals depicted Washington's dependence on slave labor, his role in Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion, and the “march of the white race” (in Arnautoff’s words). In one panel Washington is depicted pointing westward over the body of dead Native American.
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====Subject: [[:Category:Political/Economic/Social Opinion|Political/Economic/Social Opinion]], [[:Category:Sexual/Gender Orientation|Sexual/Gender Orientation]]====
  
Arnautoff's political views were influenced by Diego Rivera, for whom he worked as an assistant while living in Mexico. His style is considered more subtle than Rivera's and that of other social realists of the period. Later he joined the Communist Party, the American Artists' Congress and the San Francisco Artists and Writers Union. His politics were reflected in his work, which was part of the mural arts movement intended to inspire change through criticism of the current political system.  
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====Medium: [[:Category:Film Video|Film Video]]====
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[[File:PIB.jpg|right|200px]]
  
Two of the mural panels have come under fire since the 1960’s for their depictions of African Americans and Native Americans. For decades, activists have called for their removal.
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'''Artist:''' Jennie Livingston, Miramax and the NEA
|description_of_incident=In December 2018, George Washington High School was denied landmark status specifically due to the two panels containing offensive content. The high school is part of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and under the jurisdiction of the Board of Education. The Board was divided about the school’s application for landmark status because designating it as such would make it impossible to modify or remove the murals afterwards.
 
  
The SFUSD created a 13-member “Reflection and Action Group” to provide a recommendation to the Board. In February 2019, after four public meetings, they issued their final recommendation to remove the entire series of murals from the school.
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'''Confronting Bodies:''' Dr. Ted Baehr's Christian Film and Television Commission
  
The George Washington High School Alumni Association GWHSAA) launched a campaign to keep the 83-year-old murals intact. The alumni proposed adding interpretive panels to give them historical context and to also document how they have been experienced by Native American, African American, and other students of color.
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'''Dates of Action:''' 1992
  
The story was extensively covered in both local and national media. Those who would censor the work cited its depiction of slavery and the murder of a Native American as traumatizing to some students of color. Others, including NCAC and the leaders of four of San Francisco’s top visual arts institutions, argued that it is an artistic and historical treasure that does not celebrate the life of George Washington uncritically, but rather depicts him as complicit in slavery and the violent pursuit of America’s “Manifest Destiny.”
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'''Location:''' New York City and Washington, DC
|description_of_result=On June 25, 2019, the San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously to remove/paint over the murals.
 
|image=Arnautoff, Life of Washington.jpg
 
|source=Photo: Amanda Law, via https://www.donnagraves.org/blog/2018/2/27/citywide-historic-context-for-new-deal-san-francisco
 
}}
 
GEORGE WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL: ARNAUTOFF MURAL – SAN FRANCISCO CA
 
https://livingnewdeal.org/projects/george-washington-high-school-arnautoff-mural-san-francisco-ca/
 
  
CITYWIDE HISTORIC CONTEXT FOR NEW DEAL SAN FRANCISCO
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'''Description of Artwork:''' A documentary film depicting homosexuality and gay balls in New York City.
https://www.donnagraves.org/blog/2018/2/27/citywide-historic-context-for-new-deal-san-francisco
 
  
NCAC Letter: May 6, 2019
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'''The Incident:''' The Christian Film and Television Commission called for "all moral Americans" to boycott Jennie Livingston's ''Paris is Burning'', charging that it was a "homosexual propaganda film." Livingston received grants from Art Matters, Inc., the New York State Council on the Arts, and the NEA film and video program.
SAN FRANCISCO HIGH SCHOOL MAY DESTROY HISTORICAL MURALS
 
https://ncac.org/news/san-francisco-high-school-may-destroy-historical-murals
 
  
Professor Dewey Crumpler Defends GWHS Murals
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'''Results of Incident:''' ''Paris is Burning'' received international attention and distribution. The Commission continues to recommend local ratings boards for film.
GWHS Alumni Assn SF CA
 
Art Professor Dewey Crumpler defends Victor Arnautoff's (WPA/PWA 1936) Murals and discusses how the Arnautoff murals relate to his [Crumpler's] 1974 murals, and vice versa, at George Washington High School (San Francisco, California). We must face, not erase, America’s dark history.  Censorship is never acceptable. - GWHS Alumni Association
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZEMpyvdAXQ&feature=youtu.be
 
  
June 26, 2019
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'''Source:''' Artistic Freedom Under Attack 1992
San Francisco school board votes to destroy controversial Washington High mural
 
Jill Tucker
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-school-board-votes-to-destroy-14050025.php
 
  
SF school board votes to destroy circa 1936 mural
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[[Category:1992]]
“No one has the right to tell us as native people—or our young people who walk those halls everyday—how they feel” 
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[[Category:1990s]]
https://sf.curbed.com/2019/6/24/18716046/george-washington-high-murals-sfusd-vote-victor-arnautoff
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[[Category:20th century]]
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[[Category:North America]]
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[[Category:United States]]
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[[Category:New York]]
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[[Category:New York City]]
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[[Category:Washington, D.C.]]
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[[Category:Political/Economic/Social Opinion]]
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[[Category:Sexual/Gender Orientation]]
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[[Category:Film Video]]
 +
[[Category:Jennie Livingston, Miramax and the NEA]]
  
SFUSD Approves Covering Controversial George Washington High School Mural
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{{DISPLAYTITLE:<span style="font-style: italic;">Paris Is Burning</span>}}
https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/06/26/george-washington-high-school-mural-cover-up-sfusd/
 
 
 
June 25, 2019
 
Bay Area art leaders on censorship of George Washington High mural
 
The controversial mural will see its fate decided during a Tuesday evening school board meeting
 
https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/bay-area-art-leaders-on-censorship-of-george-washington-high-mural
 
 
 
School board votes to paint over historic high school mural
 
Alumni have threatened to sue over removal of frescoes depicting slavery, death of Native Americans
 
https://www.sfexaminer.com/the-city/school-board-votes-to-paint-over-offensive-sections-of-historic-high-school-mural/
 
 
 
June 24, 2019
 
Open Forum: The San Francisco School Board is flunking history
 
By Lope Yap Jr. 
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Open-Forum-The-San-Francisco-School-Board-is-14039382.php
 
 
 
June 20, 2019
 
High school mural debate a reminder that destroying art destroys our culture
 
https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/high-school-mural-debate-a-reminder-that-destroying-art-destroys-our-culture
 
 
 
June 19, 2019
 
Activists want a racist San Francisco high school mural removed
 
https://tworowtimes.com/opinion/activists-want-a-racist-san-francisco-high-school-mural-removed/
 
 
 
June 17, 2019
 
Fate of controversial SF high school mural down to three options
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/Fate-of-controversial-SF-high-school-mural-down-14008090.php?psid=auUdw
 
 
 
June 15, 2019
 
National Coalition Against Censorship Urges Retaining Washington Murals
 
https://sfrichmondreview.com/2019/06/15/national-coalition-against-censorship-urges-retaining-washington-murals/
 
 
 
June 10 2019
 
Activists want a high school mural removed. Should its impact today overshadow the artist's intentions?
 
https://www.cnn.com/style/article/george-washington-mural-conversation/index.html
 
 
 
MAY 13, 2019
 
David and Art - "High School Mural"
 
By BRODIE BASHAW
 
https://www.kwbu.org/post/david-and-art-high-school-mural#stream/0
 
 
 
May 7, 2019 9:00 p.m
 
Feds could weigh in on fight over preservation of historic mural
 
SFUSD working group favors removal of controversial Washington High School fresco
 
https://www.sfexaminer.com/the-city/feds-could-weigh-in-on-fight-over-preservation-of-historic-mural/
 
 
 
May 3, 2019
 
High School May Remove George Washington Mural that 'Traumatizes Students and Community Members'
 
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2019/may/high-school-may-remove-george-washington-mural-that-traumatizes-students-and-community-members
 
 
 
Apr 15, 2019
 
STUDENT OPINION
 
Should School Murals That Depict an Ugly History Be Removed?
 
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/learning/should-school-murals-that-depict-an-ugly-history-be-removed.html
 
 
 
April 11, 2019
 
These High School Murals Depict an Ugly History. Should They Go?
 
By Carol Pogash
 
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/11/arts/design/george-washington-murals-ugly-history-debated.html
 
 
 
April 9, 2019
 
Historic WPA murals at George Washington High School are facing destruction due to controversial depictions of Native Americans and African-Americans
 
https://richmondsfblog.com/2019/04/09/historic-wpa-murals-at-george-washington-high-school-are-facing-destruction-due-to-controversial-depictions-of-native-americans-and-african-americans/
 
 
 
April 8, 2019
 
Critics say mural depicting slavery, Native Americans at a San Francisco high school is offensive
 
http://www.ktvu.com/news/ktvu-local-news/critics-say-mural-depicting-slavery-native-americans-at-a-san-francisco-high-school-is-offensive
 
 
 
Offensive or important? Debate flares anew over SF school mural depicting slavery
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Offensive-or-important-Debate-flares-anew-over-13748800.php
 
 
 
April 2, 2019
 
Washington High Alumni Push to Keep Dubious Mural
 
A mural showing colonizers stepping over a dead Native American has long been controversial, but an alumni group is fighting to save it.
 
http://www.sfweekly.com/news/washington-high-alumni-push-to-keep-dubious-mural/
 
  
  
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Latest revision as of 17:35, 22 June 2020

Featured Case


Date: 1992

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Sexual/Gender Orientation

Medium: Film Video


PIB.jpg

Artist: Jennie Livingston, Miramax and the NEA

Confronting Bodies: Dr. Ted Baehr's Christian Film and Television Commission

Dates of Action: 1992

Location: New York City and Washington, DC

Description of Artwork: A documentary film depicting homosexuality and gay balls in New York City.

The Incident: The Christian Film and Television Commission called for "all moral Americans" to boycott Jennie Livingston's Paris is Burning, charging that it was a "homosexual propaganda film." Livingston received grants from Art Matters, Inc., the New York State Council on the Arts, and the NEA film and video program.

Results of Incident: Paris is Burning received international attention and distribution. The Commission continues to recommend local ratings boards for film.

Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack 1992
































What is Censorpedia?

Censorpedia is a crowdsourced online database of censorship cases within the arts and in culture. It is aimed at those researching censorship, at activists working for freedom of expression and at artists and other cultural producers whose expression has been subject to censorship or attempted censorship.

Censorpedia documents censorship incidents by providing the who, what, when, where and why. By providing a repository of information about what is vulnerable to censorship and about the strategies and tactics that have defeated previous’ censorship attempts, Censorpedia aids the fight for free expression.

Researchers can search for a specific case, year or keyword using the search box, as well as browse by medium, by grounds for censorship, or explore a random case.

Activists can search for ongoing cases or contribute a case that is ongoing or recently resolved.

Artists and cultural producers are similarly invited to add cases they are directly involved with or are familiar with first hand.

Censorpedia builds on the landmark 1994 art project The File Room, initiated by Muntadas.

For more information about censorship visit our Annotated Bibliography


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