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Re: [teacherartexchange] nudity in art education response from Patty

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From: Judy Decker (judy.decker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Dec 14 2007 - 03:56:34 PST


Hi Jane and all,

Patty's response was a good one, too (made to ArtsEducators list)
I am posting hers here.

> 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 have been much more careful about presentations of nudes in art in
the past few years. And yes, it's because you never quite know the
community and what goes home and gets told at the dinner table.
We live in a very queer set of standards in our society and yes, I'm
not likely to risk the trouble anymore to defend ART against parent
inquiries and misinterpretations.

But I have to question what it is that we teach about nudity in art?

I'm coming more and more to believe that the nude in art is more
about voyeurism and not so much respect for the beauty and form of
the human body. Ther is a ton of signifiers to deal with. And I'm not
so sure what I want to perpetuate about the tradition. I love
teaching about Manet's Olympia and comparing it to other
"Odalisques". I love Manet's Luncheon. I love teaching about
Picasso's Les Mademoiselles and notions of beauty. I'm much more
interested in the "gaze" than the boobs.

I'm not trying to be flippant, but I have serious considerations
about art teachers without comprehensive art history background
presenting nude images with only some textbook notation as backup.

I sometimes think the nude in art is more about fears than about
reverence for the form. It's about "bareness" and all the
implications, and how many of us can speak to that in an elementary
classroom? Does anymore really want to get into the idea of the
innocence of the Garden?

this is tough stuff and it can't be just relegated to self-censorship.
When somebody like Kenneth Clark writes volumes on the subject, I can
hardly make it a "blip" in my aesthetic questioning in the public
school situation.

Patty

On Dec 13, 2007 3:41 PM, Jane wrote:
> 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.

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