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Saturday, November 19, 2016

AU’s Freddy Fredrickson ‘Gets to Work’ on Ugly Graffiti

Press Release:
When the Wellsville Little League fields were defaced last week with ugly, hateful graffiti – a swastika and the phrase “Make America White Again,” spray-painted on the wall of the dugout – the news went viral in an ugly way. The incident, occurring within 24 hours of the presidential election, drew the attention of major news organizations. Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered state police and the state Division of Human Rights to investigate, calling the graffiti a “deplorable act” and vowing that “those responsible for this conduct will be held to the fullest extent of the law.” Meanwhile Freddy Fredrickson of Alfred got to work. His idea, he recalls, came to mind Saturday, four days after the election and following a meeting he attended of students at Alfred University’s School of Art and Design. Fredrickson has been a member of the SOAD staff for more than 30 years as a technical specialist. “I couldn’t put graffiti right on the dugout,” he recalls, “but a sign leaning against the dugout would be okay.” The sign he eventually painted included a symbolic safety pin, a red heart, and the words, “Make America Kind Again.” “We needed to remind ourselves that as Americans we were polite, kind, caring, accepting,” he says. “We need to teach our children kindness by example. We need to speak out against unkind slogans, actions, statements and jokes aimed at minorities. And kindness is not political. Nor is it about the election.” Fredrickson made four signs in all. He leaned the first against the Wellsville dugout, where the original graffiti already had been painted over. He placed the additional three signs around the Village of Wellsville on private properties owned by friends, village residents Andy and Tina Glanzman. Eventually, the first sign was relocated to the Pujari Mart store on Alfred’s Main Street. His work turned a public relations disaster into a national feel-good story. The Buffalo News, which had run an article on the original graffiti, picked up the new story, as did the Wellsville Daily Reporter, Time Warner news and WKBW, the ABC news affiliate in Buffalo. “The reaction from the community was very positive,” Fredrickson says. “Some people honked and gave us thumbs up as they drove by. Not speaking up is a silent endorsement, and the graffiti that someone painted on the dugout just forced me to articulate my feelings.” A kiln specialist for SOAD, Fredrickson joined the University in 1980 and has built the majority of kilns used in the New York State College of Ceramics. He also oversees the operation and maintenance of the kilns and operates his own business, Fredrickson Kiln Co., in his spare time.