Art gallery damage now called an accident

Six students came forward last week claiming involvement in the destruction of a three-foot sculpture in the Fine Arts building main gallery.

The Department of Public Safety concluded the shattering of senior art student Maria Kammerer’s sculpture entitled “Shedding” was an accident and not malicious. The students had been in the art gallery writing a critical review for an English class when one of the students bumped into the statue, said DPS chief Jeff Butler, who refused to give the names of those involved saying it wasn’t a criminal investigation.

“We are satisfied that it was an accidental,” Butler said.

David Knight, art gallery director, said he is shocked that the people who broke the sculpture were caught.

“I wasn’t expecting them to ever be found,” Knight said. “When I got the message that DPS had found them, I was surprised.”

Knight said while he believes it was an accident, there are still some discrepancies to the story that he would like to see explained. One is that art students near the gallery at the time of the incident on Tuesday, March 26 said they saw three men running from the scene. This is contrary to what the six English students claim. Butler said the students told two gallery workers about the sculpture and the workers said they would report it.

“It is one thing if the students broke it and then told someone and another if they broke it and ran,” Knight said.

Neither Butler and Knight said they know who these workers could be, since no workers reported anything. Knight said he finds that suspicious. “I want to know who these workers are and why they didn’t come forward,” Knight said.

Knight said he has also heard rumors that the teacher of the English class was in the room at the time of the incident. “That disturbs me that a teacher would walk away and forget about it,” Knight said.

Butler said there is no evidence suggesting the teacher was present. “It is just a bad rumor,” Butler said.

Knight said he would ultimately be satisfied if he knows the exact details of what happened and who was involved. Having people come forward to accept responsibility was the first step. “I’m glad some people came forward, but I wish it was a week before,” Knight said.

Since it was an accident, the students won’t be required to pay for the damage, which Knight estimated was $300 for sculpture and $300 for damage to the floor.

Knight said the art department is also looking a various security measures to prevent this incident from happening again. Among the suggestions are increased security cameras, a watchman, or shorter hours. Knight said the latter is the most likely.

Security cameras might not curb vandals since there have been many pieces broken in broad daylight and hiring a guard would be too costly, Knight said. Keeping the student’s artwork safe is important, Knight said.

“Artists put a lot of time and effort into their work and it is hard to see it destroyed,” he said. “It is like if someone burned an English paper.”

The case is closed, Butler said and there will be no further investigation into the matter.

Kammerer did not return messages asking for her comment.