On Apr 9, 2008, at 6:36 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> Several times on various listservs the issue of prohibition of
> certain kinds of images has been discussed.
> Catherine has posted a response to a student's religion inspired
> art, forbidden by a school.
> She mentions other subjects, such as drugs and weapons that can be
> limited in art class.
> Some schools or art teachers publish lists of subjects considered
> transgressive, and I have heard teachers refer to these as "ATF"
> (after alcohol, tobacco, and firearms). Some topics given have been
> mushrooms, marijuana leaves, ninja and other weapons, gang symbols,
> drawings or paintings of violence, sexually explicit images (such
> as nudes), references to gender identity, derogatory images about
> race and creed, cigarettes and smoking, alcohol and drinking, works
> that are political and may be interpreted as disloyal to the
> This brings up a deeper "philosphical" question for me:
> What is it that moves one to make an image considered transgressive
> or offensive by some? In young people is it just about testing
> What moves people to be so offended that they prohibit images? What
> makes them fearful or worried about the images?
> What is the role of iconoclasm in the current culture?
> Some art teachers have written that they encourage students to make
> their work that might be questioned in private, at home or in
> journals that only the teacher and student see. Others say they
> allow strong or difficult images if they can be defended.
> Clearly young people are moved to express the subject matter that
> most salient to them. If they are struggling with impulses; if they
> are trying to figure out some aspect of their identity, such as
> spiritual or gender; if they are coping with interpersonal
> violence; if they are dealing with a crisis at home or with their
> friends, if the influence of their peers is driving them to
> experiment with drugs or sex - all of these normal adolescent
> issues might come out in their art work.
> Then - in the background for most of us who teach art in schools -
> we have examples from the "art world" when professional artists
> exhibiting in museums and galleries take on social, emotional,
> religious, sexual, gender based, political themes, expressing
> difficulties and protesting about them through their art.
> Sometimes, as in the "Sensation" exhibits of 9 years ago, the
> general public learns of these works through the media and protests
> them, or the ideas they express.
> (Some of you may remember that New York's mayor wanted to defund
> Brooklyn Museum because he was personally offended by works that
> appeared to him to mock the Catholic faith).
> Those teachers who encourage students to include images from
> culture and who are interested in using visual culture ideas across
> the curriculum might also be considering what they should limit.
> Some of us have reported having to turn student work in to
> administrators. If a student seems to be disturbed. School violence
> is a concern.
> Ours is a sensitive and delicate job, helping young people sort
> themselves out in their beliefs and their needs in the art room. It
> is a real challenge to be up to it.
> Along with sharing great lesson plans, it's always helpful to hear
> responses about subjects such as the above from the list.
> Jane in Brooklyn
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