Kathy, this is the approach I would take:
You mention that this is project was approved for a grant from your district.
If you wrote in the grant that the chidren would be researching a variety of
famous artists and then painting the geese "in the style of " that artist,
then a case can be made that the district (or whoever approves the grant) gave
you "permission" and even extra funding, to proceed with the project. Since
this special project has been sanctified by the grantees, then the complaining
parent has to take the issue up with the committee and not you or your
principal. This unit of study WAS APPROVED before you began! This needs to be stressed!
You can site this example: "The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has an
elementary program where among non-nude paintings, the docent will park your
class in front of Matisse's huge "Dance" painting. There she leads a discussion
about the nudes dancing around in a circle. She evens asks "Why do think
Matisse painted the people in the nude?" Kids in my class had answers like, "He
wanted them to look natural and free."
I don't make a point of showing nudes to my elementary classes because I
don't want some crazy, ignorant parent to complain. If, however, if it happens
that they see nude art, it happens. I've had a few incidents where the kids
"discovered" nudes while looking through my "for children" books. In one case,
The class started laughing and pointing at a nude child in a Michelangelo
print. I casually said,"Oh, that nude- It's Baby Jesus." After that, you could
heard a pin drop.
Maybe this parent would be satisfied to have her/his child assigned to an
artist who traditionally does not paint nudes, such as van Gogh or Cezanne. I
hope your principal understands that your art books are not pornography and
backs you up by giving the (idiotic) parent this option.
Good luck...let us know what happens.
Susan on Long Island