Shuttered. Closed down. Censored. Moi? Really?
My duo show with Stu Chait, Intersections of Form, Color, Time and Space was closed on July 18 by RIT-NTID’s Dyer Gallery because the nude figure paintings might be offensive to young campus visitors. It seems like just yesterday that I was saying issues of censorship didn’t raise their ugly heads here in Rochester.
At our first meeting with the gallery, I specifically asked whether nude figure paintings would be a problem. I pointed out that the primary work dealt with difficult themes of how women are marginalized in the 21st century. I am a feminist, and my figure work deals with things like religious submission, bondage, slavery, prostitution, obesity, exploitation, etc.
|The Laborer Resting, 36X48, oil on canvas. Available.|
These paintings were reviewed, accepted and hung by the gallery with no problems. The opening was well-attended, and there were children present. (For that matter, my son regularly schleps paintings for me, and his biggest complaint is that he’d rather be using his computer.) The show was featured in RIT’s University News and mentioned in City newspaper. It was not until administrators saw the work that it was deemed unacceptable.
The cynic in me thinks that if I painted coy, sexy Odalisques there would have been no objection to the show. Young people are exposed to sexually-charged but non-intellectual images every day; in fact, this is part of the problem I am painting about.
|Meanwhile, kids who go to malls are exposed to images like this on an everyday basis. And this really is obscene, because it uses sex to sell clothing.|
If difficult issues of women’s rights can’t be examined in a college gallery, where can they be examined?
I have occasionally pulled individual pieces that were too challenging. Last month I had a show at AVIV Café and Gallery at Bethel Church on East Avenue. The director pulled one work because its depiction of starving Africa frightened children. But since he left the bulk of the work intact, this was no problem.
|Aviva Sleeping, 36X24, challenges the notion that an obese woman cannot be a beautiful one.|
Of course, I’m in Maine, so Stu Chait and Sandy Quang had to deal with the work of pulling, wrapping and moving around 60 large paintings. And visitors to the show will find the gallery empty. What a pity.
Sorry, folks. My workshop in Belfast, ME is sold out. Message me if you want a spot on my waitlist, or information about next year’s programs. Information is available here.