An original painting by Ruth Bemis entitled “Her Garden” went missing from the Bemis Music Room on the second floor of Peirce Hall last week. A maintenance worker found the painting almost a week later, on Wednesday, Oct. 11, wrapped in garbage bags in the back stairway of a Taft Cottage.
Almost exactly two years ago, the theft and discovery of the painting happened along a similar timeline. Near the end of Sept. 2015, the painting went missing. Manager of Business services Fred Linger sent an email to the student body and Campus Safety began their search. A few weeks later, Safety found the painting in the back stairway of one of the Taft Cottages on Oct. 3, 2015.
Now the perpetrator may face disciplinary consequences. Linger said the College “knows who did it,” and any further inquiries about the incident would have to go through James Jackson, director of student rights and responsibilities. Linger said the paintings in Bemis will now be secured to the wall to prevent this from happening in the future.
“The names of the students who allegedly stole the painting have been provided [to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities]. However, the conduct process will have to run its course before a determination regarding responsibility can be decided. Previously, students have faced disciplinary consequences ranging from loss of privilege to suspension depending on the context of the theft,” Jackson wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Ruth Bemis, the artist of the painting, was a longtime donor to Kenyon. In her will, she left her house in Mount Vernon to the College. The paintings in Bemis depict various indoor and outdoor scenes from the view of their residence. In the painting that was stolen, she depicts the flowers in her garden during the summer. Linger said he was not sure whether this was part of a student organization’s ritual, seeing as it happened almost exactly the same way and at the same time as it did two years ago. But, he said the painting could have been seriously damaged, especially because the Taft stairwell often floods. He also said the alleged perpetrator put the painting near the trash and that it could have been mistaken as garbage, especially because a maintenance worker was the first one to find it.
Either way, Linger is glad to see the painting has been returned. He hopes securing the painting to the wall will prevent anyone from attempting to steal it for a third time.