“Nuclear Refuge”, a painting that was originally scheduled to hang in the Hillsboro Civic Center was removed from the exhibition. This painting, which is the artist’s reaction to the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a mixed-media collage of magazine clippings, wax, nails, rust, and paint. Marroquin created this painting with the intention to raise awareness about the dangers of nuclear technology and empower viewers with that knowledge. She hoped that this – now censored painting, would start a dialogue about why nuclear power is used given the extreme danger is poses.
The Hillsboro Cultural Arts Program removed the painting because of concerns of public reactions and fears in light of the current threats of nuclear war with Korea. They felt that the work was unsettling for the space and that they needed to respect their audience. They also stated that a government space is not an appropriate place for art about nuclear fallout.
“The most important thing we can do with regard to art is not only to view it, but to discuss it. It is the job of art to engage the viewer in a meaningful way in order to facilitate larger conversations. When an artist is censored the notion is that the general public needs to be protected or in some way coddled from a subject matter. That they are in some way intellectually incapable of understanding an important and timely topic. Sam Marroquin’s work, which I have curated for a very large social media platform (thousands of people worldwide have seen it) is important work that offends no one. What is offensive is the notion that the intelligent people of Hillsboro, Oregon won’t have the opportunity to join in the exciting discussion that Marroquin’s “Nuclear Refuge” elicits and thus not only minimizes the impact of the exhibit but the mission of the Civic Center, as well.”
- – Cheryl McGinnis-art correspondent Cheddar, curator, art historian.
It would have been appropriate to display the painting and allow individual viewers to come to their own conclusions. Respecting the audience also acknowledges that the viewers are intelligent and can respond to art in their own way. With the painting removed they will not be able to have that experience. Preventing freedom of expression in the arts hurts the public’s ability to process and act on information, impends the ability to observe or discuss issues and ideas of critical importance.
Marroquin displayed this painting in a number of public locations including Lower Columbia Community College, in Longview, WA, Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham, OR and most recently, Vancouver City Hall, Vancouver, WA.
Marroquin’s art focuses on current and historic events facing society through the abstract layering of found objects and mixed media. Ironically, the notion of revealing truth is at the center of Marroquin’s practice.
The seven remaining paintings in the exhibit can be seen through the end of January, 2018 at the Hillsboro Civic Center Breezeway, adjacent to the auditorium where City Council meetings are held, 150 E Main St, Hillsboro, OR 97123