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A little over a month ago, a piece of art from a six-piece installation created by Pforzheimer tutor Omobolaji O. Ogunsola ’10 was stolen from its Moors Hall home where it was on display and is yet to be recovered.
Following the theft, Ogunsola took down the remaining five pieces from the installment. Now Pforzheimer Faculty Deans Anne Harrington John Durant have pledged to purchase the remaining five pieces and hope to ensure their safety by equipping the works with enhanced security, potentially a locked glass case for the art.
The installation is an adaptation of an art piece by entrepreneur Ceata E. Lash portraying a black woman with natural hair. After noticing the art had gone missing, the Pforzheimer Faculty deans sent several pleas over House email lists asking students to return the artwork.
“It was particularly poignant and particularly [dismaying] that it should have vanished,” Harrington said. “We want to make things feel good at home and we want to reaffirm our commitment to displaying a range of diverse art forms that celebrate the diversity of our artists and our community.”
"I cannot imagine why somebody would wish to remove an art work in this way," Durant wrote in an email to Pforzheimer students last month requesting any information about the theft.
Many students praised Ogunsola’s artwork for exhibiting and promoting black culture. Miguel Garcia ’18 commented on the significance of the work from his perspective as a student of color.
“To see such beautiful black art on the wall was just really affirming and comforting to students of color,” Garcia said.
Ogunsola said her installation was intended to be “a celebration of blackness in a space that is traditionally white.”
“The natural hair movement is about self-love,” Ogunsola said. “It is affirming our right to be in this space and belong in this space, and to celebrate our blackness.”
Garcia said students in Pforzheimer respect Ogunsola for the deep relationships she cultivates among her students. “She has been an amazing tutor. She’s a great source of emotional support, career guidance, and she’s just always someone who makes people happy,” said Garcia.
In an effort to show support Ogunsola and to help gather any information that would help recover the work, Garcia created a tumblr page entitled “Bare Wall of Black Art: Space and Race at Harvard.” The page has more than 15 comments reflecting on the role she played in their lives at Harvard.
In the wake of the theft, Ogunsola said “people have shown a lot of love.”
“My Faculty deans have been really supportive as far as offering to purchase the art and ensure that it is reinstalled securely so that it can’t be stolen,” she said.
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