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A Community Arts Center Exhibit Was Vandalized With "Make America Great Again"

The drawings, which the artist had created over the course of 30 years, also had "fag," "bad art," and "this is not art" written on them.

Posted on February 10, 2017, at 4:45 p.m. ET

An exhibition of drawings was vandalized with "Make America Great Again" last week at a community arts center in Arkansas.

Vandal writes 'Make America Great Again' on works in exhibition https://t.co/CUgeyFkMmo

The exhibit at the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale, which was a series of hundreds of drawings by 40-year-old artist Ben Edwards, was found vandalized on Feb. 3.

In addition to the drawing that had "Make America Great Again" written on it, four other drawings — which Edwards had created over the course of his life — had "fag," "bad art," and "this is not art" written on them.

"The artist had hung hundreds of his drawings he had collected for 30 years, beginning around the age of 9 or 10," Jenni Taylor Swain, the center's executive director, told BuzzFeed News. "There were hundreds of drawings that go from floor to ceiling, so when you walk in, you’re just kind of engulfed in a series of drawings."

Arts Center of the Ozarks

"At one point, someone on our staff thought they saw something that wasn’t part of the exhibit. Upon looking further, we found a series of derogatory comments that were written in black magic marker," Swain said.

Swain said the exhibit had been scheduled to be open from early January through Feb. 8, so it was a "disappointing" conclusion to an otherwise well-received exhibit.

Artwork Vandalized at Arts Center of the Ozarks -- https://t.co/Aty8mG3X8B #NWAnews #NWArk

"We are using the arts to engage the community and to bring people of different backgrounds together," Swain said. "Our role is about teaching people what art is."

Because people are always coming and going from the center, Swain said "there’s really no way to determine" who defaced the art, or why.

A police report was filed following the incident, but Swain said Edwards declined to pursue further action, and has been reluctant to draw further attention to the incident.

"I want something positive to come of this," Edwards told Arkansas Times. "Forgiveness is the only way to diminish the power of the deed."

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