The new MLK Memorial might not be finished until after the 50th anniversary of the March to Washington because of a contract dispute between Chinese sculpture Lei Yixin and the National Parks Service.
“Master Lei wants to ‘aggregate blast’ the memorial to even out the color, and under the current contract we are unable to do that,” Carol Johnson of the National Park Service told ABC News.
“It looks unfinished,” Executive Architect Ed Jackson Jr. told the AP. “The artist is furious about leaving his work unfinished.”
It is possible that work on the memorial will have to stop on August 28, the 50th anniversary of the March to Washington, and resume after the commemoration, according to Johnson.
“…Even if the blasting is not done before the 28th, it is unlikely that most members of the public notice. And the scaffolding will be down by the 28th,” Johnson said.
Lei was commissioned to remove a controversial quote from the MLK Memorial earlier this month after critics said the inscription, which read “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” made King look “like an egoist.”
The inscription was successfully removed on August 1 and all that remains is to make the affected area of the memorial look uniform with the rest of the piece. Lei plans on returning to China on August 20, he told the AP.
“We are working with the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center to see if they can do the work under the guidance of Master Lei before he leaves. If that does not work out, we will work with Master Lei to bring him back later,” Johnson said.