Other than a lingering odor of chemical cleaning products in the air, the interior of the Kellen Gallery on Monday’s Town Hall showed no signs of having been defaced during Thanksgiving. Approximately eighty or so attendants including New School students, faculty members, and gallery workers gathered with the University Student Senate, President Van Zandt, and Provost Marshall to hold a discussion regarding the space’s continued usage by occupiers.
But several gallery workers were not ready to move on. Recounting their horror at seeing the gallery’s destruction, one claimed that his “job to protect this space,” was now threatened. Increasingly vocal were other gallery supporters, such as a representative from the New School Radio organization. As recent grant recipients, these students had been given the Kellen Gallery for an ongoing exhibition and studio space that has now been interrupted. One Parsons professor pointed out that sacrificing a gallery for the sake of the protests “creates a hierarchy that puts art and design at the bottom. ” She pointed out that a defacement of a computer lab might have received a stronger reaction.
One particularly vocal New School student wanted to know why words such as “destruction” or “trash” were being used in reference to the gallery’s state. Comparing such dialogue to Fox News’ descriptions of Zuccotti Park, he pointed out that the graffiti could be considered political art.
A couple occupiers that were present during the move from 90 5th Ave to the Kellen Gallery claimed that those active in the defacing were a “petulant” and small group of seven or eight who might have ruined a positive occupation thus far. After an hour or so, there seemed to be a consensus among many that the negative actions of the protestor’s fringe group had eclipsed the main issues. Most present seemed to be outright supporters of the overall movement.
But after multiple laundry lists ranging from specific grievances to broad ideologies had been brought forth, some well-spoken and others just downright inflammatory, the discussion of the space’s future needed to be had. Pressed by University Student Senate co-chair Melissa Holmes, several people brought forth good points regarding the Kellen Gallery’s potential as a space for open discussion. Others felt that the University might be able to find a less public space. In the end, the lack of a fairly represented University community meant that a vote could not be had. After two hours, the gallery’s status was still up in the air, and the original goal of the meeting unmet. Attendees filed out with the promise from the University Student Senate that an email regarding a vote would be sent soon.