Facebook group reignites Tiger Spot discussion

The deteriorating mosaic has been covered by a tarp since August 2007.
Underneath the tarp on Lowry Mall lies Tiger Spot, which artist Paul Jackson created in 2001 and has been covered since 2007. A recently created Facebook group called 'Restore the Tiger Mosaic' now has more than 1,300 members.

A Facebook group in support of restoring Tiger Spot on Lowry Mall has gained more than 1,400 members since its creation March 10.

Sophomore Bethany Welcher, creator of the "Restore the Tiger Mosaic" group, said she was motivated to launch the page after reading an article about Tiger Spot.

"Originally, I just posted a link to the article on my Facebook," Welcher said. "I got back from my classes for the day and had nothing to do, so I decided that I can go ahead and start a group. Within an hour I had 80 members. Now there are over 1,300."

Tiger Spot is a 30-foot-diameter glass tile mosaic of a Bengal tiger. The spot has been covered by a tarp since August 2007 when the mosaic became damaged by natural wear and tear. The artist of the piece, Paul Jackson, is an MU graduate. Students first called for its removal in 2006, but Jackson hasn't cooperated with attempts from MU to remove it, claiming it would violate his intellectual property rights.

Welcher said her goals for the group are to spark interest among different organizations on campus, create a forum where alternative measures for the Tiger Spot can be discussed and educate underclassmen about the story behind the spot.

"The big talk on the wall is that a tacky tarp doesn't represent us well," Welcher said. "Most guests walk through Lowry Mall, and we could do a much better job representing our school. We know it's probably going to cost a lot of money to do anything but lets at least think about it."

Welcher said she hopes the group will get the MU administration to understand that students care about the Tiger Spot, and they won't stand for a tarp to solve the problem of the damaged artwork underneath.

"They're saying we can't restore it and we can't remove it so let's just not worry about it," Welcher said. "They should come to the student body with the issue."

MU has made numerous efforts to fix Tiger Spot and discuss the issue with the artist, MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said in an e-mail. At this point, Banken said discussions with the artist would only continue if they came to a resolution.

"However, experts tell us that due to the extreme range of Missouri's temperatures, the Tiger Spot cannot be fixed," Banken said in the e-mail.

Although MU administrators did not comment on whether they were open to student opinion on the matter, the Missouri Students Association discussed the topic of renewed interest in the Tiger Spot during its Tuesday meeting. The issue was assigned to the Student Affairs Committee.

MSA President Tim Noce said most students don't really know the facts about the Tiger Spot.

"Unless you're my age or older you wouldn't even remember the Tiger Spot," Noce said. "It's a tricky subject. When I saw it I thought it was kind of cool, and then I realized there were a lot of holes and big cracks. It seemed less convenient each day."

Although there is no resolution concerning the issue of Tiger Spot, Welcher said she hopes the renewed student interest her Facebook group would push the administration to get serious.

"Even a new tarp would be good," Welcher said. "At least they could cover it up with something that looks nice."

Noce said he agrees something must be done with Tiger Spot.

"Obviously the students and campus don't want to fork out too much money on repair," Noce said. "Yet, it's something that will have to be dealt with."

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