The equation of white marble with beauty

In June there was Sarah Bond.

Earlier this month, Bond published an article in the online arts publication Hyperallergic saying that research shows ancient Western artifacts were painted in different colors but have, over time, faded to their base light marble color — giving the false impression that white skin was the classical ideal.

Uh oh. We know where this is going.

“Modern technology has revealed an irrefutable, if unpopular, truth: many of the statues, reliefs and sarcophagi created in the ancient Western world were in fact painted,” she wrote. “Marble was a precious material for Greco-Roman artisans, but it was considered a canvas, not the finished product for sculpture. It was carefully selected and then often painted in gold, red, green, black, white and brown, among other colors.”

While today’s scholars have accepted this as fact, she said, the general public is another story. Part of the problem is that most museums and art history textbooks continue to contain “a predominantly neon white display of skin tone when it comes to classical statues and sarcophagi.”

The “assemblage of neon whiteness serves to create a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region,” she continued. “The Romans, in fact, did not define people as ‘white’; where, then, did this notion of race come from? … The equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe.”

Bond suggests this misunderstanding has perpetuated or been used to support racism over time, saying that “how it continues to influence white supremacist ideas today [is] often ignored.” Groups such as Identity Europa, for example, use classical statuary “as a symbol of white male superiority,” she added. “It may have taken just one classical statue to influence the false construction of race, but it will take many of us to tear it down.”

Unpossible. There’s no such thing. What we see and hear has no influence whatsoever on what we think. Our thoughts come directly from God, or from the energy of the cosmos if that’s what you prefer to call it – but in no case do they come from what we experience in our environment. Our sacred free will and original thinking depend on this well-established fact, and I defy any mere classics scholar who would attempt to challenge it.

We make up our own thoughts out of our own heads; we do we do we do! We’re miraculous that way. We have souls, and internal essences, and Identities, and those are where our ideas come from – not from what we read or see or hear said.

Conservative sites like National Review and Campus Reform were on the case.

Campus Reform included some lengthy quotes from Bond’s piece and contacted her for comment. She complied, saying that “Greeks and Romans actually added color to their art and thus white marble was often the canvas rather than the finished product.” The “exalting of white (and unpainted) marble was then an 18th century construct of beauty rather than representative of the classical view,” she added in an email to the website. But the coverage there and elsewhere, plus an additional mention by conservative talk radio host Joe Pags, was enough to prompt online threats of violence and calls for her termination, she says. There was additional heckling and harassment, including anti-Semitic references (Bond is of Jewish descent).

“What they want to believe is that there is a liberal professor that is so sensitive to race issues that she will make race issues out of anything,” Bond told ArtForum. “They want to make me an example of the hyperliberalization of the academy.”

They’re making America great again.

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