‘Inclusion’ mural gets a second chance in Grafton

LGBTQ+ display covered in Cedarburg to be painted at Art Mill
By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press Staff

An LGBTQ+ inclusive mural first painted at Webster Transitional School in Cedarburg will be recreated in a Grafton Art Mill show after the Cedarburg School Board decided  to permanently cover the original display.

The art show, titled “Inclusion,” will run from Aug. 27 to Oct. 10 and give community members an opportunity to assist in recreating the mural, which displays people of races from all over the world holding hands with different LGBTQ+ flags in the background.

“Anyone in the community can come and partake,” said Sheri Mabry, founder of Northshore Academy of the Arts in Grafton.

Painting of the mural will begin on opening night of the exhibit at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 22.

The “Love is Universal” mural was designed and painted in June by the Webster School’s Student Acceptance Team, which was formed to foster diversity, acceptance and inclusion in the school.

Shortly after the mural was completed, the School Board decided to cover it temporarily, citing board deliberations on whether LGBTQ+ flags depicted in the mural were “developmentally appropriate for students at the school.  

After receiving backlash from parents on social media, the School Board uncovered the mural briefly before ultimately deciding to permanently cover it.

In an Aug. 9 letter to the Webster and Cedarburg community, the School Board stated that procedures were not properly followed prior to the mural installation.

“The district has policies and procedures in place which must be followed, and approval is required for all student groups and faculty advisors regarding publications and productions created and distributed, including murals painted on school walls,” the letter stated.

Additionally, the letter stated that the mural was not inclusive of all members of the school community.

“Upon review, it was noted that not all members of our school community were represented in the mural,” the letter stated.

After additional backlash against the call to cover the mural on social media — some alleged the decision had homophobic overtures — the Cedarburg School District issued another letter attempting to clarify the board’s rationale.

“Legally if the board allowed the mural to remain, it would have impacted the board’s ability to enforce district policies and the ability to control what is placed on district school walls in the future,” an Aug. 11 letter stated.

Katherin Myszewski, an adviser of the SAT when the mural was installed and a former teacher at Webster, said she received approval for the project from Principal Tony DeRosa and was not made aware of other procedures required.

Mabry said the “Inclusion” exhibit was planned before contentions surrounding the school mural occurred, and that it is meant to provide artists a place to showcase their work after a difficult year for artists because of the pandemic.

But when the mural was covered at Webster, Mabry said, organizers wanted to provide a space where SAT and community members could display the work.

“Our mission has always been to be a safe place for people to create and express,” she said.

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