Forest residents are likely aware that some individual(s) took it upon themselves to begin the re-decoration (de-institutionalization) of LoFo. In an email sent out to residents, Linda Schiffer made it clear: “It was the decision following the building’s renovation, to leave these walls just painted. As blank as they are, that is the decision.” Who was involved in this decision at the time of renovation? Who was not involved?
I question the ease with which the original student art was painted over, and again how quickly it was repainted when a threat to this institutional decision materialized. LoFo as it exists now is a neutered space, deprived of the art that gave it character and made it a beloved student space. How much time and money was just spent to re-institutionalize LoFo back into a grey-washed space? And why? Because “the decision” has been made?
The act of re-decoration seems to be primarily a political act, organized against the institutionalization of the space. We must address this underlying message and not write it off as senseless dorm damage.
We must ask ourselves why this space exists – and for whom. Ultimately, we must begin a conversation about how we want our space to be used, including how it should look. It cannot be a decision made by administrators alone and handed down from the top. It must come as a dialogue between students, deans, and staff. That is, if we place any value on student input.
For the sake of full disclosure, here are two other pieces of art that were not included on the email to Forest residents: