The persons or persons responsible for vandalizing the Star City Day community art project should be ashamed.

At least 100 people — and probably more — spent time at those two canvases on July 4 to create something that was supposed to be shared with the community.

Now, some of the art those people and children created is gone, wiped out with spray paint. It was painted over as if what those artists had to say did not matter, like the memories they shared with the families while creating it didn’t matter. 

It’s a shame. 

Jenna McGuire, the artist who coordinated the community art project, said she cried when she saw the vandalism. It broke her heart as much as we’re sure it hurt those who expected to see those canvases framed and placed at locations throughout the city.

“These were local people’s artwork, children’s artwork, and if you can drive by and see something you’ve created, you feel happiness immediately, and that’s what we were trying to do, was to make it something that you could look at and smile,” McGuire said. 

Our reporters watched children painting their pieces of artwork for up to an hour that day. They put a lot of time and effort into painting something that is no longer legible, thanks to the spray paint, and, again, that’s a shame. 

We’re assured that the Prestonsburg Police Department will prevail in its investigation to determine who vandalized the artwork, but in the meantime, we hope this situation starts a conversation in Floyd County.

The person or people who spray-painted the canvases last week may have seen these drawings created by other people as nothing more than just scribble. We would argue, however, that they were much more than that. 

As a community art project these canvases were a powerful voice for every person who contributed to it with their personality and creativity. They were also a powerful voice for this community.

Community art projects — something McGuire and others hope to bring here in the future — can help struggling communities by giving people reasons to interact in public spaces. They engage people of all ages and help them tell their own stories, as well as the stories of this community through their eyes. 

It’s not just about creating an atmosphere that would be pleasing to tourists. 

It’s about building that space that lets them and the people who live here take a moment to appreciate the unique and wonderful place we’re lucky enough to call home. 

One could argue that the person or people who used the spray paint were merely expressing themselves and being creative. That may well be true, but the lack of respect they displayed with that spray paint turned the artwork into a blob of selfishness. 

If we’re lucky, Prestonsburg and Floyd County will have plenty of community art projects in their future, and we’ll all be able to appreciate them without the vandalism. 

If we’re really, really lucky, those who vandalized the Star City Day canvases will take a few art lessons, learn a bit of teamwork and come to understand how important it is that a public art project like that allows all voices to be seen and appreciated. 

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