Name: The Story of Colors / La Historia de los Colores: A Bilingual Storybook from the Jungles of Chiapas

Date:  1985 - 1995

Location:  North America

SubjectPolitical/Economic/Social Opinion


Artist: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, author/ Cinco Puntos Press

Confronting Bodies: William J. Ivey, Chief of the National Endowment for the Arts

Date of Action: March 9,1999

Specific Location: National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C.

Description of Artwork: The Story of Colors is a Mexican folk tale for children. It is based on a Mayan creation myth that addresses diversity and tolerance.

Description of Incident: The NEA had approved funding in November 1998. After reviewing a copy of the manuscript and a biography of the author, the NEA budgeted $7,500 for the publication of The Story of Colors. After a call on March 8 from New York Times reporter Julia Preston, who had called to verify facts for her story, NEA chairman William Ivey personally withdrew the part of the grant that supported the publication of this book. He was concerned that some of the money would be used to support the Zapatista movement in Mexico, of which the book’s author is a prominent leader.

Results of Incident: The Lannan Foundation—the same organization that stepped forward to fund the Mapplethorpe exhibition after it too had lost funding—promptly offered to reimburse Cinco Puntos Press for the money lost and continued to doubled it. The story made the major papers across the nation, and it also became big news in Mexico. Additionally, freedom of expression groups collaborated on a letter urging Ivey to reconsider his decision.

Source: Cinco Puntos Press 1999, NCAC

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