Exclusion of 'nuclear' painting from exhibit sparks controversy
A Vancouver, Wash.-based artist whose mixed-media art is currently on display in the Hillsboro Civic Center is questioning the city's decision to exclude one of her works from the display.
Sam Marroquín sent a press release to the Hillsboro Tribune questioning the city's decision to exclude her painting, "Nuclear Refuge," from the exhibition.
The painting, which is the artist's reaction to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, is a mixed-media collage of magazine clippings, wax, nails, rust and paint.
Marroquín said she created the painting with the intention of raising awareness about the dangers of nuclear technology and empowering viewers with that knowledge. "My intention was to start a discussion about nuclear power and why we're using it," Marroquín said, and by extension, discuss the dangers of nuclear weaponry.
The Hillsboro Cultural Arts Program, which curates the small space at the Hillsboro Civic Center, reserves the right to choose which art to display in the space, according to cultural arts manager Michele McCall-Wallace and city spokesman Patrick Preston.
The painting was never removed because it was never hung in the gallery space, McCall-Wallace said. Marroquin provided more art pieces than there was wall space available for the exhibition.
"We reserve the curatorial right" to select the pieces that will hang, McCall-Wallace said. "All of her work is rooted in social justice," she added.
Marroquín's art focuses on current and historic events facing society through the abstract layering of found objects and mixed media. She has displayed "Nuclear Refuge" in a number of public locations including Lower Columbia Community College, in Longview, Wash., Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham and most recently at Vancouver City Hall in Vancouver, Wash.
One of the works on display at the Civic Center, entitled "A Location Near You," pinpoints every nuclear power plant on a collaged map of the world. Another, entitled "Blowout," documents explosions and accidents on offshore oil-drilling rigs.
Marroquín maintains that city officials didn't hang the work because "because of concerns of public reactions and fears in light of the current threats of nuclear war with [North] Korea."
The seven remaining paintings in the exhibit can be seen through the end of January at the Hillsboro Civic Center breezeway, to the left of the main plaza entrance, 150 E. Main St.
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