When Lindsay Fuori and Mairin Hayes painted a mural to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings they had no idea it would be covered up two years later.
Fuori, now a student at Boston University, designed the 10-foot-by-15-foot mural for the top of a stairwell at Newtown High School in Connecticut in late 2013.
The mural features a dreamcatcher with 26 beads representing the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, as well as the date of the shooting—12-14-12—and the words “In Loving Memory.”
Fuori, 19, painted the mural in late 2013 as part of a senior project that included research on art therapy and the creation of a guide to local therapy resources, reports the Associated Press. She felt the dreamcatcher was appropriate because intrusive dreams are common with post-traumatic stress disorder.
To address concerns from administrators, she covered up the date and text on the mural, but that wasn’t enough. In November 2015, Newtown Superintendent Joseph Erardi covered the mural completely with plasterboard, reports the New York Daily News.
“Multiple sources brought to my attention that the mural was problematic with student recovery,” the superintendent wrote in a November 2015 letter to Newtown High parents. “During the first quarter of the present school year, ongoing student recovery, through the lens of the learner and multiple families, remained problematic at a heightened level because of the mural.”
“It’s important to be aware of the students still struggling with the shooting—I think we all are to some extent. But we need to help them, not shield them,” Fuori told the Daily News on Monday. “Removing the mural clearly doesn’t remove feelings about the mural.”
The covering of the mural resulted in a Change.org petition asking that it be uncovered. The petition has more than 800 supporters so far.
“As one of the two artists who created this mural, it was disheartening to learn that it had been covered without our consent or knowledge, especially after we worked with the school and (permanently) painted over the words ‘In Loving Memory.’ This piece of art was our way of giving back, of healing through beauty and preserving and honoring the memories of those we lost,” Hayes said on the petition page. “It means so much to know that the NHS community has been positively impacted by it. However, if there is an individual who is made uncomfortable by the image, I think that should be taken [into] account. Lindsay and I worked hard to create an uplifting and thoughtful memorial.”
Matthew Soto lost his sister on December 14, 2012, and told the Daily News he was sad that the mural had been covered.
“I understand both sides of the argument. It is very difficult for a lot of people to talk about it. At the same time, I think memorials are an important reminder of what happened,” Soto told the Daily News. “There were 26 lives taken. These memorials serve a purpose—not to forget. I would like to see it kept up. It happened. It’s important to not let those lives be lost in vain.”
“A lot of students feel like they’re being told to forget, and that’s not a healthy feeling, either,” Fuori said. “It’s a very difficult situation, but I don’t think this is the solution.”