Najja Moon sculpture vandalized in Miami Beach
Najja Moon’s public art sculpture “Your Mom in the Back of Your Head”, originally in Collins Park in Miami Beach, was vandalized with cruel racial and homophobic slurs in late December. A few weeks later, it was again vandalized and savagely destroyed. The vandals are not known.
As a gay man, father of four and chairman of the board of The Bass, I must speak out against the malicious and intentional destruction of this work of art. There is no place for hate in South Florida. There is no place for vandalism and the destruction of public art in our community. At The Bass, we unequivocally defend the safeguard of artistic expression.
Moon’s sculpture celebrated the universal theme of motherhood by playing recorded personal anecdotes of mothers of varying ages, backgrounds and heritages. The sculpture reflected the diversity of our community through its colorful iridescent sunlit panels. The work commemorated the praise, encouragement and criticism that mothers, no matter where they come from, what they look like or what they believe in, use to inspire and motivate their children.
With this work, Moon bridges our cultural differences by honoring motherhood, elevating the universal, yet deeply personal, parenting experience into a beautiful public monument.
I was devastated and furious to learn that this public piece of art had been destroyed. I’m proud of Moon for facing this hurtful experience with grace and courage, and proud of The Bass for supporting the artist and defending the right to freedom of artistic expression. How is it possible in 2022 that we continue to encounter such hateful homophobia and racism in Miami Beach?
Najja’s work was part of The Bass’ New Monuments program, an annual open call for Miami-based artists to create a new temporary monument in Collins Park. The five-year program aims to broaden the national debate around monuments, providing a safe public platform for artists to challenge and reconsider who monuments honor, the purpose and relevance of contemporary monuments and question the validity of their continued existence. . “Your Mom’s Voice in the Back of Your Head” was the first winner of this program, sponsored by the Knight Foundation.
In such a diverse community, it was easy to think, “Well, those things don’t happen here.” They do.
Hate and violence underscore the critical need to continue to confront racism, homophobia, misogyny and xenophobia as they manifest in our language, actions, hearts and communities. We must remain vigilant and engaged in confrontation, education and reflection in an effort to eliminate the hateful and discriminatory beliefs that continue to infect our vibrant community.
Vandals and enemies will not win. The New Monuments program will continue despite the malicious acts, encouraging our community to engage in honest conversations.
From 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 11, we will join Najja Moon, neighbors and art and social justice advocates at The Bass for a closing rally to honor labor and say a resounding no to hate. Baja and South Florida must and will stand together against discrimination and prejudice of all kinds.
George Lindemann Jr. is an investor, art collector and philanthropist. He is Chairman of the Board of the Bass Museum.