Thursday, October 07, 2004

Can't anybody speak this here language?

Tenser, said the Tensor links a funny news item: a library in California spent $40,000 on a ceramic mural that apparently includes a large variety of historical figures. Problem is, the artist -- one Maria Alquilar -- misspelled the names of eleven of the historical figures, including Shakespeare, Van Gogh, and Michelangelo. Check out the large photo, and note the spelling of "Einstein":

The refitting of the mural, in order to get the spellings right, will take $6,000 on top of the original $40,000 spent to build the mural in the first place. And the artist? Is Ms. Alquilar repentant or contrite? Nope:

"The importance of this work is that it is supposed to unite people," Alquilar said. "They are denigrating my work and the purpose of this work."

Oh. Random misspelling in this work is a feature, not a bug. Right.

And Alquilar seems a bit defensive, doesn't she? One wonders how she ever became a professional artist at all, if this is how she reacts to a criticism as basic as, "Hey, isn't that spelled 'Einstein'?"

There were plenty of people around during the installation who could and should have seen the missing and misplaced letters, she said.

"Even though I was on my hands and knees laying the installation out, I didn't see it," she said. People overlook misspellings all the time. Sometimes it's because their brains automatically correct for the misspellings; other times it's because they just don't know how to spell the words in question. Which is true here? Probably the former, in Ms. Alquilar's case. But I don't know.

Either way, misspelled words are misspelled words. That no one noticed for a while doesn't change this.

The mistakes wouldn't even register with a true artisan, Alquilar said.

"The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words," she said. "In their mind the words register correctly."

Um...what?! I mean, reall: WHAT?! "People who are into humanities aren't looking at the words"? Geez, as an aspiring writer, I like to think I'm "into humanities", but maybe I'm dead wrong. I guess I'm not a "true artisan".

(BTW, find the mistake in this graf from the news article:

Reached at her Miami studio Wednesday by The Associated Press, Maria Alquilar said she was willing to fix the brightly colored 16-foot-wide circular work, but offered no apologizes for the 11 misspellings among the 175 names.

Funny to see an error like that in a news item about spelling errors, eh?)

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