The late Joe Paterno has an angelic look once again.
Artist Michael Pilato watched recently as former Penn State football player Bruce Clark painted a halo over the legendary Nittany Lions coach’s head on a mural of notable local figures near campus in State College, Pa.
Pilato posted a video of himself and others painting halos over numerous figures in his mural this week. He titled the video “Righting a Personal Wrong.”
“I am not doing this because I believe all who had them were ‘saints.’ I am doing this because it is the right thing to do,” Pilato wrote in the notes accompanying the video on YouTube. “For 16 years on every mural tour I have explained the symbolism behind the halos saying this, ‘It is my hope that as you visit the mural and notice the halos over the people who have died, you will be reminded of how short a time we have to do great things as did the people on the wall.’”
Pilato has said that he “had no choice” but to remove the halo over Paterno from the 90-foot mural titled “Inspiration” because of the public’s incorrect interpretation of the symbolism.
But, he said in his notes to the video: “I intend to no longer be so sensitive to criticism that I will change in a direction I feel, within my heart, is not true to myself. I fully expect that today’s changes to the mural will again provoke pros and cons. That’s OK. That’s what public art is all about!”
Pilato first added a halo over Paterno’s image shortly after the coach’s death on Jan. 22, 2012, but removed it that July after a report commissioned by Penn State said Paterno and others were part of a coverup involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who has been convicted of child molestation.
At the time, Pilato painted a blue ribbon for sexual abuse awareness on Paterno’s chest instead of the halo. Clark tells Pilato in the video that many State College residents were “disappointed” and “confused” when the artist made those changes.
“I’m sorry for my fast actions with, you know, removing that halo,” Pilato tells Clark in the video, adding, “But all I can do myself is do the right thing.”
Clark tells him, “And you have.”
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