BU Today feature: Dean Young’s Office Artifacts
This article was originally published in BU Today on December 4, 2019. By Amy Laskowski. Photos by Cydney Scott.
Back when the College of Fine Arts building at 855 Comm Ave was a Buick dealership, the oak-paneled corner office now occupied by Harvey Young, dean of CFA, belonged to the dealer’s manager. Today, the office overlooks not only the Green Line, but the Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre across Comm Ave.
It’s fitting that a dean of a fine arts college has an office filled with sculptures and paintings, but pieces here also include cartoons, sports ephemera, and even action figures. Practically everything has a story behind it and some may make visitors do a double take.
On one bookshelf are five small plastic figurines, dressed in what appear to be the hoods and capes worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Young bought these Penitents figurines in Seville, Spain, during Semana Santa (or Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter) in 2003. “When you think about it, there’s that look,” he says, “but that style was taken by the Klan. It’s an odd and eerie experience being in Seville during the processions, and you look behind you and see three people all dressed up and carrying torches.”
On his large wooden conference table are a stack of postcards Young collects and writes about in publications like the Wall Street Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education—early 20th-century racial caricatures of African Americans. Young’s academic research focuses on race, history, and performance.