Recently the Atlanta Journal Constitution published an article about a mural painted by artist George Beattie being slowly hidden from public eye.
My own interest was piqued when I noticed that the mural in question was painted in downtown Macon, just inside the lobby of the post office located on College Street.
If you’re like me, you pass by this post office rather frequently. I’ve never been inside, but I never knew that there was a huge mural covering the wall of the lobby.
I’m not sure how many Mercer students were aware of this mural, but now we may never get a chance to appreciate the local artwork.
The only mural I’m aware of in Macon is the one that is also on College street, just after the bridge over the railroad tracks. Artwork like that defintely brightens up a mundane daily commute.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution report, the mural is described as “the flowing composition of ancient and modern scenes, seven in all, graces the walls of the building’s entry hall.”
Now that the artwork is being closed off by walls that are being put up, an argument of whether or not the content is being censored due to the controversial subject matter of the murals comes to fruition.
I’m leaning more towards censorship, myself, as the goal rather than different alternatives that have been brought up by the state as well as post office employees.
The article highlights the fact that before most of the mural had been concealed, one of the post office workers mentioned that the mural “evidently offended someone.”
Personally, I can understand why people have been offended. Thinking about the subject matter, alone, is enough to offend someone. Looking at an image depicting a disturbing image is definitely enough to generate a strong emotional response.
The mural has been reported to include “Scenes [that] show the area’s first native people, its early colonizers and some of the city’s most prominent figures. Other images harken to slavery, lynching and the Confederacy. In the background of one section, a line of Ku Klux Klansmen can be seen marching into the moonlit distance.”
We live in a different time than when these murals were painted.
In the 1960s, this type of scene was not thought as so controversial, it was just how things were, especially here in Macon. People were exposed to that sort of scenario on a daily basis.
Fortunately, our society has dictated that those sorts of scenes are not acceptable and are downright disgusting to look at.
Of course people are going to be offended. However, I don’t believe offending someone is any real reason to hide away artwork by an important Georgia-born artist.
I realize I’m going out on a limb by saying that. What the post office is doing is a form of censorship. I don’t really agree with how the city is handling the situation.
I do appreciate that the city of Macon and the people inside the post office isn’t flat out destroying the artwork. It could be worse.
But people around Macon who haven’t visited the post office prior to them covering up the mural don’t really know about the artwork; they haven’t really seen it. Therefore, they live an ignorant life in regards to what is now hidden behind those walls in the post office.
Stated in an e-mail correspondence between the author of the original article, and the U.S. Postal Service, the slow process of covering the artwork was due to “post-9/11 ‘security measures.’”
The walls that the murals are on are in an area that belongs to the building’s off-limits area for security purposes.
The email correspondence goes on to state that the walls were put up in 2004 to “prevent public access to employee areas which also eliminated access to the murals.” A likely story, post office people.
I don’t doubt that security measures were necessary to put into place considering all of the 9/11 concerns. Four years later seems like a bit of a stretch to me, but I’m not going to question it. I am going to question the sincerity of their 9/11 claims.
According to what I have read, it seems to me that the post office people had a hidden agenda to keep the mural from being seen by the public eye.
I’m really just upset that they are hiding it. I mean, I know that there is probably a lot of offensive material within the mural. But I think that there is a better way to handle the act of covering it up.
Perhaps moving the areas that need to be protected by security measures?
I noticed that some sort of construction is going on over at the post office. Why not pull an act like our Cruz Plaza construction and just do everything at once?
I’m sure once it’s all over the citizens will thank you. Well, most of them. There are always those select few that disagree with anything new or different.
But back to the subject of this mural in the post office. It’s not like Beattie intended on creating a work of art that offended everyone.
Beattie’s son, Beattie III said, after viewing the mural for himself in his adult life, “My father was doing things in those murals that were very subtle, extremely subtle. His whole idea was to say, ‘Well, I’ve got to show history. How can I show it in such a way that will illuminate the consciousness of what was really going on?’”
With that last quote featured in the final sentence of the article, I have to commend Beattie for painting what he did. It takes great strength to display your beliefs in a way that is vulnerable to anyone’s opinion.
He had some of the best intentions, but now his intentions are being covered up by those who are judging him. Where do we draw the line at what constitutes as terrible enough to censor?