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[teacherartexchange] nudity in art education responses so far


Date: Thu Dec 13 2007 - 12:41:21 PST

I sent the responses to my question (reprised after the post below)
to yahoo groups, not Teacher art exchange. Thanks to all who
responded and if anyone has something to add, please do.

Looking back at Getty nudity strands from 01 onward, I found until
 recently the responses included suggestions for how to present
 nudity in art, ideas for informing constutuents, awareness of
 school and community standards. Nudity in art was considered
 normal, if limited or taboo in some circumstances.

 The latest request for information (see my original post below) has
 turned up a majority of respondents who, to paraphrase, suggest
 that it is too much trouble to include nude images in any form.
 This appears to be an opting out of showing works of art in the
 classroom that include nude figures, though some respondents
 consider seeing nudes in a museum setting is o.k. - but even there
 the general attitude is, "better not."

 I remember the statement from the past on several occasions where
 teachers have said "I don't censor, I choose."

 Are we, as a profession, choosing to not include the nude human
 - at least at the elementary level? How about high school and
 college?Is my (admittedly) perception a response to several
 well-publicized recent examples of teacher firings over students
 seeing nudity in artworks?

 A significant reason to eliminate nude representations in art
 by most respondents: parents. Remarks included the information that
 one parent complaint could end a teaching career.

 Some respondents say it isn't worth the hassle involved to inform
 parents and administrators that they plan to include some nude
 images in their art program content.

 One sensitive and thoughtful teacher delivers a talk, as needed,
 when students come upon nudity, for example in looking through
 magazines for collage images. The teacher's talk is delightful,
 pointing out how beautiful we all are, and our bodies works of art
 in themselves. Even so, the teachers is careful to say
 that nudes would not be shown to them in class on purpose.

 Has anyone seen parents' power re the content of an art program
 growing since they started teaching?

 Do schools (administrations) seem to want to exclude nudity in art
 programs? Art books in the library?

 Some museums are now issuing statements about nude art in their
 collections. Birmingham museum, for example, has a nudity
 disclaimer attached to its general information (website).

 A Christian college includes a rationale for having nude figure
 drawing classes in its art program, but states that students can
 opt out of those classes.

 Maybe I am just imagining increased sensitivity about nudity in
 artworks. Not that it wasn't always there, but is it more

 Thanks to all who weighed in.

 Hope to hear from some others and I am especially interested in
 responses from high school and college level instructors. Jane in

 Here is my original post

 I am working on a unit for a modern art course that includes nudity
 in art. It is for the college level, but I wonder if it has
 applicability in elementary and secondary education.

  You can respond off line to me, or share your ideas with the list

  Have you changed your mind about including the nude in art since
  began teaching?

  Are there any differences in your teaching about the nude that
  evolved over time?

  Two years ago a teacher (Sydney McGee) was fired, with a feature
  the dismissal based on exposing an elementary school student to a
  work of art during a school-sanctioned field trip. According to
  news reports the student told her parent about seeing a nude or
  nudes in the museum.

  (There was a later report of personnel issues that contributed to
  the firing, but the nude sculpture seen by the students during the
  tour of the museum remained as the problem that set the firing in

  Have the McGee or other publicized issues around teachers and
  disciplinary actions around nudity caused you to choose to
  eliminate books that include nude images or museum trips that
  expose students to nudity?

  Does your school have a permission system that addresses what
  students might see in museums?

  Do your administrators put limits on nudity in seeing or making

  Attitudes among art historians have been changed over time,
  especially in post modern times and in study of visual culture,
  especially by insights resulting from increased appreciation of a
  feminist perspective about the nude in art.

  Have your own ideas about the nude in art changed over time?Do you
  personally regard the nude differently than when you started to
  study art and art history?

  John Berger and others point out that the female nude, even in
  is not just an image representing an aspect of human beauty.
  Questions about appropriate female nudity in art and the nude
  submitted to "the male gaze" are widely discussed today.

  Any ideas to share? I can report relevant comments anonymously if
  you wish.

  Thanks, Jane in Brooklyn

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