As my partner and I walked out of Rose Hall this morning, we were greeted by the jarring presence of a white Ford F-150 parked just off the loggia, along with an aggravating whir coming from some sort of device attached to the truck. As we continued on our way, we noticed some men using a power washer – the source of the whir – to scrub something off the floor. We quickly realized that the stencil art displaying the names of Tamir Rice and Jamar Clark that had been painted on the floor of the East Campus loggia was experiencing the same fate as the art that was on display in front of the JRC some time ago. The college had hired someone to come remove the political statement from our space.
Later in the day, as I was walking from South Campus to the ARH, I felt the crunch of dried bird droppings beneath my feet. For a number of weeks now, a murder of crows has decided to make one specific tree their home, painting a bird shit Jackson Pollock on the sidewalk for all to view. Unlike the stencil art on the floor of the East Campus loggia, this naturally occurring piece makes no political statement. Its value lies in its aesthetic alone; however, being literal shit, its aesthetic is honestly quite shitty. As I continued on my way after taking a moment to observe the patterns created by the fallen avian excrement, my mind returned to the events of this morning. Why has the college not cleaned up the sidewalk the same way they have the loggia?
It must be that Grinnell places a higher priority on removing students’ important political statements than on removing literal shit from the ground.
One could make the argument that the birds would just keep laying more abstract art on the ground if their existing work was removed, but the same could be said about students’ art. Grinnellians do not simply stop doing graffiti because some of it is removed. It seems like new art pops up every day – take the prolific and enigmatic “help i’m a worm” artist as an example.
People will continue to make art just as birds will continue to make shit. For whatever reason, however, the college refuses to clean up the shit but springs at the opportunity to clean up art. Grinnell is simply too afraid of possibly controversial statements being made public.
Please, let our voices be heard. Or, at the very least, clean up the bird shit.