Bunny vandalized Friday evening
Many students did a double take Monday morning as they walked past the iconic Bunny statue covered with a blue tarp after an act of vandalism committed on Friday night.
Students walking to class got a rude awakening as they stopped in their tracks to read signs posted by Maintenance Operations on pillars around the statue.
“I take it for granted, walking by [the Bunny],” senior Matt Ampleman said after stopping to read the sign at the Bunny. “It makes me appreciate it more.”
Unknown individual(s) spray painted graffiti in gold paint on the bronze base of the statue.
“There was some lettering that wasn’t quite clear,” Washington University Police Department Chief Don Strom said. “We’re not quite certain what it was saying.”
An Aramark employee reported the graffiti at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday and the police quickly called maintenance. The damage was covered with a blue tarp and silver duct tape immediately.
“I was really confused when I first saw it,” freshman Ali Ruth said. “People here seem really respectful of property and space.”
According to the Maintenance Operations signs, an art conservator must be called in to remove the paint and restore the statue to its original state.
“If you take off the spray paint, you take off the patina,” Elizabeth Childs, associate professor of art history and archaeology said. “It’s not like scrubbing grease paint off a piece of plastic…there will be a chemical interaction that will have to be addressed.”
The Director of Maintenance Operations Bill Wiley called the incident “unfortunate.” According to Wiley, the restoration process involves very small instruments and a very slow process. As of press time, Wiley was unsure how long it would take for the statue to be restored, though Maintenance Operations should have a better idea today or tomorrow. “We don’t own the work,” Wiley said. “We have to call in someone from the outside.”
The Bunny first popped up on campus in 2001 as a result of a long-term loan from the Gateway Foundation, which supports art in the St. Louis area. According to staff at the Gateway Foundation, there are no plans to move the statue at all.
“When we talked about bringing it here, I remember distinctly talking about not thinking of any Wash. U. students defacing any works of art,” Childs said. “These things happen in this day and age but usually not at a place where people understand the value of these kinds of art,” she said. Childs helped advise Chancellor Mark Wrighton on bringing the statue to campus.
The bronze statue, formally called “Thinker on a Rock,” is the creation of famed Welsh sculptor Barry Flanagan, who passed away in 2009. In past years, the statue has been covered in glow sticks after Convocation, wreathed during the holiday season and decorated for other purposes. “It’s a significant contemporary work that invokes both humor and a consciousness of our traditions,” Childs said. “It fuses popular culture and high art, making it pretty relevant to today’s students.”
As of press time, there are no suspects, according to Strom, but WUPD is investigating.
Anyone with information about the perpetrator(s) is asked to visit the police station or inform WUPD online. WUPD operates in an anonymous way, allowing informants to submit information via Silent Witness on its website.
Those responsible for the spray paint could face charges of vandalism and property damage if caught.
“It’s an important piece of artwork,” Strom said. “We want to ensure that it’s treated with the respect it deserves.”