MU student artwork of Thanksgiving dinner destroyed

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | 2:42 p.m. CST
"Happy Wastegiving," a creation of MU art students in a 3-D design class, was destroyed Saturday afternoon or evening. The installation outside the university's Fine Arts Building was meant to depict the waste of holidays and our culture in general.

COLUMBIA — There are forks, knives and wineglasses in the salad. The potatoes have been upended onto the table's white surface, now stained with purple wine and brown gravy. Two pieces of cranberry sauce are left in their dish; the rest have disappeared. 

All that's left is the turkey, brown and wet with rain in the middle of the soggy mess.


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The ravaged faux feast is a part of a piece of art that used to depict a tissue-paper Thanksgiving meal for eight. After being vandalized over the weekend, the food and tabletop are now on the grass; the table's legs have vanished.

A sign with the artwork's title is still there, though: "Happy Wastegiving."

The piece, which stood outside MU's Fine Arts Building, was damaged Saturday afternoon or evening, said Hannah Reeves, director of the George Caleb Bingham Gallery and teacher of the 3-D design class that created the installation.

Reeves said the piece was meant to show the waste associated with holidays and our culture in general. It was made of colorful tissue paper on top a white table so that when it rained or snowed the colors of the food would run down and paint the table over time. Now, however, the table will be colored only by the stains left after the damage was done. 

That the artwork will never be finished "is a little bit infuriating," Reeves said.

This is not the first time that art projects outside the building have been vandalized.

In August, intoxicated pedestrians were caught trying to move two large pieces of student art. Another of the pieces from that collection was stolen and never found, Reeves said.  

Jenna Brown, a junior graphic design major at MU, created the green bean and sweet potato dishes for the most recent installation. She was upset by the destruction of her work, adding that the possibility of vandalism had been a class concern during the project's creation.

"I just don't believe that someone would do something like that," Brown said. "Even if it's not the best thing in the world, ... we worked hard on it." 

Reeves reported the incident to the police on Monday after an officer informed her of the destruction. He suggested that she put future art inside on football weekends to avoid such occurrences, she said.

Reeves has considered several means of protecting the artworks, including moving them on game days or bolting them to the ground. However, she doesn't want to have to accommodate people who break the law.  

"It's not just something that we need to work around — this public drunkenness and vandalism," she said. 

The installation won't be rebuilt. Reeves said that a new piece of art hasn't been chosen to fill the lawn, where the remains of the feast created as a symbol of waste now lies destroyed.

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Bill Fisher November 22, 2011 | 5:24 p.m.

It was already pretty well destroyed last weekend during the Texas game, mostly due to wind. About half of the "food" was blown onto the ground, and I suspect that's what gave someone the idea to destroy the rest of it.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor November 23, 2011 | 10:03 a.m.

What a waste !!!

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Sally Willis November 23, 2011 | 12:07 p.m.

It's not wasteful around my house, we have leftovers for weeks! Yummy, makes me hungry for some good eats :)

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