A church in Loveland, Colorado has requested that local artist Margie Ellis change a “witch-like” mural painted on a transformer box, and the artist has agreed to do so. However, arts supporters fear that this may open the door for future requests to change art any time the work causes controversy.
The painting, titled "Beyond Tomorrow," depicts a woman with black hair on a black background. An atom floats above the woman’s raised palm.
The mural faces the site of the Loveland Bilingual Church, Celebration Church and Healing Rooms of Loveland.
Pastor Luis Campos, speaking for all three churches, reports that churchgoers think the woman looks like a witch.
Said Campos, "Our children are children that come from a very uncommon background. They are very sensitive to the painting. It scares them."
Phil Farley, a member of the Visual Arts Commission, believes that rather than changing the painting, Ellis might go to the church and explain her work, educating churchgoers.
According to Ellis, the painting represents science fiction, not witchcraft. The mural was painted as part of a series commissioned by the VAC. Other artists painted different transformer boxes throughout the town.
Ellis said that while she did not intend for her painting to scare children, "If my piece is doing that to them, I would like to change it so they don't have that fear."
Ellis wrote a statement for the Loveland Politics website explaining the intent of her piece: “The theme for the Transformation Project of 2012 was, “Science meets Art,” and because of my love for the genre, I based my art more specifically on Science Fiction. My initial goal was to capture the viewer’s attention with visually striking images. There are specific elements of art that I consciously select in order to achieve the desired impact, and color was one of those elements."
VAC member Charlie Jackson is skeptical about changing the painting. "What if we agree on some changes, and three years from now another congregation doesn't like a woman with red curly hair?" He said.