The Logan City School District art collection is an important and enviable legacy. Our public schools reflect who we are and what we believe. They are far more than institutions of brick and mortar devoid of culture. Schools are places where community members, students and educators respect their traditions and honor their heritage.
The proposal of some members of the Logan City School Board to sell the district’s outstanding collection of art work provides us the opportunity to re-examine our traditions and priorities and to voice our concerns to protect a valuable resource. An essential question is “If we part with valuable paintings that represent the foundation of our collective story, then what will we eventually have left?” The idea that it is acceptable to dismantle a legacy is irresponsible because it is a gift which one generation passes on to posterity.
Selling artwork which has been a treasured dream for hundreds of people for over 150 years is preposterous and disrespectful. Is there a dollar amount we are willing to place on our heritage? Are we willing to sacrifice beloved art work to solve our financial problems? It simply cannot be considered an option ... EVER! We can, and we must find solutions to financial needs plaguing our schools. However, we must do so without selling off our heritage and without robbing future generations to fix the present financial crisis.
Artwork is vulnerable and cannot speak for, or protect itself. Therefore, it is our responsibility to carefully guard this great treasure. Utah citizens have contributed many years of determination, sacrifice and vision to amass the fine collection that exists today. The countless people who have contributed to its acquisition would be appalled by any attempt to ever diminish what has been accomplished. This inheritance, which we all share, deserves to be jealously guarded and we cannot afford to be irresponsible or short-sighted in our stewardship.
We must now speak in one voice and say NO to the proposal of selling this artwork. Piece by piece, an impressive collection of art has been created and little by little it can also be easily destroyed. We cannot afford to take that first step by rationalizing what will ultimately be a destructive path. If the sale is completed, the damage cannot be undone. If we choose to do nothing to block this sale, then we will be accountable to our posterity when they ask...“Why didn’t you do more to protect our heritage?”
Dr. Martin Luther King stated that “The time is always right to do that which is right”. Administrators, school board members, educators, students and community members must act now and do that which is right. Today, the concerned voices of many can and will determine the future of this amazing collection.
Bill Laursen is a 40-year veteran art educator, University of Utah OSHER instructor and member of Salt Lake County Art Acquisition Committee.
Mary Jane Morris is a 36-year veteran educator and the 2010 Utah Teacher of the Year.