'Native Hosts' Vandalism
Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,
A recent act of vandalism has angered and upset members of the KU community. While all acts of illicit destruction are to be condemned, this particular act, which marred and damaged the artwork “Native Hosts” by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, carries additional gravity.
The panels of this artwork, which were exhibited outside the Spencer Museum of Art, drew attention to Native Americans who previously and currently occupied and steward this region, as well as the colonial forces that drove them from it. The artwork called our focus to the cultural and spiritual significance of land to Indigenous peoples and to the long and proud history of Native peoples that predates the United States by thousands of years. It provided our community with a visual reminder of Native peoples’ continued presence and influence in America and at KU.
The vandalism of this year’s Common Work of Art, reminds us all of the work we must do to acknowledge, honor, include and respect Indigenous peoples, their heritage, and their contributions to our shared community and culture. We stand in support of members of our Native Faculty and Staff Council and with students in the First Nations Student Association in condemning this act.
During the past week, members of our leadership team have been in conversation about the incident with individuals in our Native community and we will continue those conversations. We will work with the artist and the Spencer Museum to ensure the damaged art is replaced and we look forward to celebrating the reinstallation of “Native Hosts.”
Our Office of Public Safety released a photo last week seeking information about two people of interest. We ask that those with information about the vandalism share it with law enforcement officials so we can seek resolution and, we hope, better educate those involved about the profound implications of their destructive act.
Doug and Barb
Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor