Dave Wuerffel wrote:
> I am a student and would appreciate the opinions of experienced art instructors on these questions.
> #1. Do you believe that art instructors should censor art material shown in the classroom?
> #2 Should they state that certain ideas, themes and images are not acceptable in the classroom?
> #3 Should famous works of 'nude' people be presented at all, and if, when?
> #4 What about images that show topics like violence, war, or other controversial topics?
> #5 Does your school district have a set policy on what is allowable, or do you as instructors decide?
I always let my HS students know that if I see references to drugs or
gangs in their work, I will have to assume they are involved in some way
and report it to the counselors. This has not stopped them from drawing
stuff like this. I think a lot of times they have a need to express
this, either as a proclamation of their identity or a nonverbal request
I attended an interesting presentation on this at NAEA some years ago.
The art teacher was a certified therapist. He showed disturbing
examples of student work (elementary age). He had a table and chair set
up in a private corner of his room where a student could go to do work
of this nature in private. He would not allow the student to remove the
work from the room, but kept it in a file if the student wanted to
"visit" it. The student was not allowed to bring friends to look at it.
I like this approach as it acknowledges the student's need to express
something about himself (even if it's a sort of bragging about his drug
use or gang affiliation), yet remains in the room so it doesn't become
an advertisement. I don't have a private corner set up, but I do keep
work or copies of it in my office.
The issue of nudity probably depends on local mores. We don't have a
lot of parent involvement here, a mixed blessing, so I've never had a
problem with the art history text or slides I use. I do prepare the
A.H. students the first day, and they've all handled it very maturely,
even the dorky freshman boys. I don't use the same slides in the studio
classes however, as they're such a mixed bag.
Controversial issues like violence, sexism, or war are important themes
in art and shouldn't be avoided. With the proper preparation and
guidance the students can handle it better than their parents
sometimes. I took some students to see a very controversial show at the
Phoenix art museum on the use of the American flag in art. Veterans'
and conservative groups had lodged vehement protests and tried to
disrupt the show. With our favorite docent, the students truly
understood the artists' intentions and made their own evaluations. I
was really proud of them.
Our district does not have a firm policy, though we have a prohibition
against clothing advertising drugs, sex, or alchohol. It amazes me the
things the _parents_ buy for their kids.
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