The statue of George Washington at Miami University in Ohio was covered with a tarp as part of a university-approved “art installation” aimed at the “problematic” views surrounding the nation’s first president.
The covering of George Washington is part of a project sponsored by the university’s architecture and interior design department titled “What’s up with George?” and is designed to engage the university community “in a series of conversations about race, racism, and the meaning of monuments in our nation,” according to a university spokesperson.
“What About George? is a series of temporary installations and engagements to be held in Miami University’s Alumni Hall throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Centered around the William Hubard statue of George Washington, which is located in the rotunda of Alumni Hall, the project seeks to engage the campus community in a dialog about the legacy of Washington as an historical figure, the legacy of his ideas, and the story of the statue itself,” the project’s website states.
The group states that George Washington has “difficult legacies” and that the statue “presents a complex relationship for students, staff, and faculty who are confronted with his image on a daily basis” because the university exists “in part because of an ordinance signed by Washington in 1795 after the Treaty of Greenville with the indigenous peoples of the area.”
However, a former professor at the university, J. Marcus Jobe, grew concerned that the statue was covered and attempted to contact the university to get the tarp removed.
Jobe said that the purpose of the tarp “could be accomplished without covering the beautiful statue gifted to Miami in 1920.”
“The donor’s intent for the statue can be found on Miami’s George Washington Statue website. The donor’s intent was to inspire patriotism in all those who observe the statue, especially students,” Jobe said.
Carole Johnson, a spokeswoman for the university told Campus Reform that the university does not plan to remove the statue from campus, but noted that the university was aware of the project.
“The George Washington statue on the Miami University campus is the subject of a temporary art installation organized by the Architecture and Interior Design Department. The project—titled “What’s up with George?”—is designed to engage the students and the larger university community in a series of conversations about race, racism, and the meaning of monuments in our nation,” Johnson said.
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