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Confessions of a Mills Vandal

The defaced slogan of Mills’ class wall mural previously read “F13RCE Class of 2013.” (All photos by Natalie Meier)
The defaced slogan of Mills’ class wall mural previously read “F13RCE Class of 2013.” (All photos by Natalie Meier)

It has come to my attention that my most recent work, a redesign of the Class of 2013 mural, has sparked a combination of amusement, outrage, and confusion on the Mills campus. First of all, who knew anyone even paid attention to that wall? I sure didn’t. It’s a drafty alleyway they tried to make less eerie by handing out paintbrushes like it’s crafts hour in kindergarten and then all of a sudden that wall is considered “sacred.” Y’all are acting like I painted over Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel or something. Have you ever thought about how much better that painting would be if Michelangelo had drawn God farting while reaching for Adam’s hand? Think, people, think.

In any case, I was dismayed by the initial reaction and accusatory statements made by various members of the Mills community who criticized my work for not being “complex” or “thought-out.” Other hateful words used include: “elementary humor,” “stupid,” “immature,” “inane,” “really?” and “were they high?”

Ouch. Is that how they’re teaching you to give feedback in your painting classes? Whatever happened to constructive criticism? How about a “I really enjoy your bold decisions and the way your word choices, ‘FART ass,’ border on the obscene and yet bring up really interesting questions. Just a thought: Have you considered downscaling your work and not defacing school property? Thanks so much for sharing your work!”

Like, is that too much to ask for?

And frankly, I am surprised given the so-called “caliber of Mills students,” “caliber” my work supposedly diminishes, that the Mills community was unwilling to see the complexity behind the work. It behooves me to take this time to explain my work to members of the Mills community who, blinded by my choice of moderately indecent words, are unwilling to see the “complexity” they accuse my work of lacking.

Firstly, has it struck no one that my work embodies the spirit of inclusivity that Mills as an institution purports to establish? Who doesn’t fart? Everyone farts: from President DeCoudreaux to the professors to the first-years to the grad students to the M Center employees to the Public Safety officers to even that really nice lady at the Admissions Office who offers everyone tea.

In fact, I am pretty sure even the squirrels on campus fart.

Farting is the school’s one unifying feature; it therefore only seemed appropriate to incorporate a unifying, omnipresent bodily function into the class mural. Imagine my horror when I realize my attempt at unifying the school is considered “disrespectful” by other members of the Mills community. To those morally outraged by my “thoughtless defacing,” I ask: Do you not fart too?

Secondly, my specific word choices attempted to pose questions regarding the act of interpretation. Has no one thought about what I actually meant by the words “FART ass?”

As in, fart out of an ass?

Or through an ass?

Or does the fart smell like ass?

Or the fart makes me an ass?

Is “FART” the name of the ass?

Is “FART ass” a command for the ass to fart?

Is “fart” being used as a verb or a noun?

Does “ass” refer to a donkey’s butt, a contemptible person, or a fine-lookin’ lady?

If “so much depends upon a red wheel barrow,” then I think equally much depends upon “FART ass.” “FART ass” asks the reader: how do you interpret texts? But sadly, the “high caliber students of Mills” were all distracted by flatulence and unable to see poetry when it’s painted in giant red letters. High caliber, my a33.

Thirdly, did you all really not think that I knew my work was going to be painted over by the administration? I knew fully well that my work would be demolished—but the inevitable process of demolishment was always intended to be a part of my work. My art’s intent was to incorporate the administration’s involvement to draw attention to the way in which the system controls our discourse. Every time you walk by the mural now, do you not find the blank space on the wall unsettling? A blank space that stands as testament to the power that the school maintains over what we say, what we do, what we produce?

Every time I walk by the class mural and stare at the defacement of my own defacement, I am reminded of the obstinate graffiti I once read in the girl’s bathroom in CPM: “You can paint over me, but I will never be silenced!” I have since taken that sentiment on as my own mantra: You can paint over me, but you can never silence my farts.

Read the Letter to the Editor in response to this humor column.