June 20, 2012

Objet d'Fart

Warning!  This post contains gratuitous photos of NUDITY. Queue up some Barry White, lock your children in their rooms, pop open a box of wine and revel in the glory that is the naked human form. You're welcome.

In the Kansas City area, there are two petitions circulating that are pushing to remove what they deem to be sculptures of "offensive nature".    One petition wishes to remove an "inappropriate" sculpture at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens:

Another petition concerns "offensive" statues of Bare, Naked Ladies in the Country Club Plaza area:

OH MY GOD.  NEKKED LADY BITS!  Hide your children.... hide yourselves.  No seriously.  Hide yourself.  Because if you are offended by art like that?  You have got a mighty thin skin and probably should never leave your house.  Grab your Bible, fire up Faux News on the telly and settle in for a long, hot summer.

The best part of all of this is that these petitions were spear-headed by the lovely (not) American Family Association (a group that targets gays and lesbians), a Chinese Baptist Church and a bored housewife, Joann Hughes (to whom I would suggest just buying 50 Shades of Grey already).  It's a joke in the making, except I doubt any of these folks ever enter bars.  But the SECOND best part is this bit from the Hughes regarding the statue at the Arboretum:
No matter what the artist’s intent, she thinks the sculpture is, on the whole, “too mature for young eyes” and has the potential to expose children to difficult and unexpected images and force parents into conversations with children that they may not be ready to have.

“I didn’t take the time to understand the artist’s message,” Hughes said. “I was really thinking, ‘Good grief, what is that doing here?’ It is vulgar. It is provocative. I thought it was glorifying sexting. For me, it is very offensive.”

Hughes said she is not asking for the piece to be destroyed or hidden from public view. She thinks it needs to be in a museum or other more adult venue.

She rejects any argument that likens the arboretum sculpture to, say, naked figures from Greek or Roman antiquity or the works of Michelangelo or Rodin.

“I have seen the statue of David in person,” Hughes said of Michelangelo’s masterpiece. “It is beautiful. He’s also not taking a picture of his penis. There is a difference there. The message is different.”
(Sidenote: I wonder if the American Family Association knows that their fellow in arms supports gay artists such as Michelangelo and Rodin?  When will the madness stop!???)

Anyway! Here is what I think about Bare, Naked Ladies:

I think the human body is beautiful and it is simply not my place to judge an artist's interpretation of it.  Aesthetically, I do not really care for the art that is the subject of the Arboretum petitions.  But I do not support the stifling of it, either.

Last July, I took Team Chaos to see the Monet Water Lilies Exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery.  I adore Thomas Hart Benton and wanted to share some of that with the kiddos as well.

Honestly? They did not really notice the lovely Persephone there with the creepy farmer in the background leering lasciviously at her.   Furthermore, later in the main hall, they did not notice the Greek statues of naked men with their junk hanging over our heads like wrinkly bunches of grapes.

And lest you think the Nelson-Atkins  is not meant for children, let me point out their Youth and Family Programs for your viewing pleasure. In fact, I was at the Nelson a few weeks ago and that very same program was hosting something just a few paintings down from the gorgeous painting of Persephone and her agrarian stalker.

But don't tell Joanne Hughes that.

What say you, Gentle Reader?  Would you risk your precious progeny's eternal soul on this one?  When does art cross the line into obscenity?


Unknown said...

Welcome to Kansas, where they want you covered from chin to toe.

And they want full control of all your reproductive organs.

But if you're poor, they pretend you don't exist.


Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Exactly! I bet Brownback can't even say "vagina".

Sarah Manley said...

I think making the human body into something shameful does a disservice to us all. It can be appreciated for its beauty and the amazing things it does. Hello, we can walk and talk and yes, even create art. And I think this shaming also leads to things like 'vagina' being embarrassing. We've always taught the kids to correct words for their bodies. My daughter has a vagina, vulva, uterus. Not a hoo haa or a wee wee. She also has elbows and toes.

Sarah Lena said...

".. it was glorifying sexting."

.. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

(Yes, obvious outrage because OMG SERIOUSLY?! It is not as if she is fondling herself or spreading her labia open.)

Forget the war on bath salts. It's time we started focusing on the TRUE ENEMIES: art and bewbies.

Christine said...

I lost her at museums being "adult venues." That's a sad statement for her kids. NO KNOWLEDGE FOR YOU!

Dee said...

I'm not a fan of the piece at the Arboretum, but more for the chopped body parts than the boobs. Honestly, I doubt my kids would even notice it.

I hope to teach my kids that the human body is not something to hide or be ashamed of. Hell, I'm breastfeeding a 4-month-old baby. They see boobs every day and think nothing of it.

Cara said...

I don't know... Honestly, I don't know and I fall pretty far to the left on the social/political spectrum. I don't think I would have noticed it or thought much about it. But, I'll be honest that I flinched a little when I scrolled past the photo you have in the post. I think its the open shirt that makes it feel more overtly sexual to me. Though, you raise a great point about Persephone and the leer... And while I have a knee jerk reaction to censorship, I wouldn't want to be caught off guard if its placed somewhere that you think of as being more child-centric. (I don't know the venue, never even having visited your state.) Then again, by the time my kid was old enough to notice I don't expect it would matter. And, if it did, then it would be a conversation I really needed to have... So, yeah, I just don't know. And that surprises me.

Oh, and only the first statue bothers me at all. The Country Club ones? So not a problem for me.

kristen said...

Can I just say "ditto" to Cara's post. That statue is off-putting to me because it feels overtly sexual. I wouldn't want to be caught off gaurd by that. I'm a plant person and tend to think arboretums should be plant based.

Art is art. I don't always understand it but I can't define it either. But there is a point where I don't feel it is appropriate. I also feel that is a personal line I draw. So yeah I don't know.

Melanie said...

The art doesn't really bother me, but its certainly not my taste either, I sort of think nudes are more acceptable to most than ones (like the first pictured) where it appears (to me) that the intent is to photograph her own breasts? I don't have a problem with it per se' but In an age where everyone and their brother are getting into trouble for emailing or texting such photos, I do wonder what the art is supposed to be saying. I am already dreading the day when I have to tell my son that if GOD forbid he is 17 and dates say a 16yr old, and she texts him naked pictures he had better delete delete delete and wash his eyes out with soap because if he so much as SHARES the image with a friend, he could face being registered a sex offender for LIFE.. these are very different times

kreed said...

I sort of feel sad for the people that have nothing better to do than start a petition to remove a statue from an arboretum. Are you seriously that bored? Is this seriously the biggest concern you can come up with? No world hunger? No concern for the homeless? The political situation in this country? Thank God you are trying to save all of humanity from a set of tits at the OP Arboretum...how would we ever have made it without your intervention?

What ever happened to staying the hell out of everyone's business? Maybe I find your church and AFA association offensive, but I am not trying to shut them down so my kids don't ever have to hear your nasty, hate-laden speech and ideas. I will simply explain to them that you are an idiot, but that everyone is entitled to have an opinion. In the case of the statue, if you don't like it, don't walk by it or don't walk your kids by it. The venue made a decision to put it there. If you don't like it, don't patronize the venue. If your kids are going to be scarred for life by unexpectedly coming up on some breasts, I am afraid they are going to have a pretty hard time getting through life.

Good luck with your petition. Because as I already stated, I believe we are all entitled to our own opinions. I just kind of think that this time and energy would be better spent actually doing something that could potentially make the world a better place. Because I think that many women and 99.9% of the men out there would agree that a world without breasts would be a sadder place.