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re: Olympiad of the arts

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From: Ken Schwab (bicyclken_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Mar 09 2005 - 06:57:11 PST


Each year the local Junior College has a high school competition called the
Olympiad of the Arts. Each school in the county (approximately 30) are
invited to bring no more than 8 pieces of student work, per teacher, for a
judged show. The show is in the student gallery for 2 1/2 weeks. I was
fortunate enough to have my students win first and second place in the
judging. Heidi winner (first place), did a thoughtful and beautiful piece
about her grandfather who was interned and lived through Auschwitz; it used
images of Hitler skeleton arm with her grandfathers number on it and images
of prisoners in mixed media. Marissa Kent (second place) did a pastel of
a window reflection with the window's frame actually made out of mattboard
to look 3-d.

 I was at the reception last evening and I was very proud of them.
However, the head judge for the show came up and said to me, that they gave
the best in show to another piece because it was not as controversial as
the one with the image of Hitler in it. He called it safer and that it
would not make any negative reactions. I was puzzled by this, as the piece
was clearly negative about Hitler and the killing of Jews in prison camps
and I was hoping that the judging would be on the merit of the work not the
safety of the image to the public. I feel her statement was positive and
made you think.

I am not bitter about the outcome, but I am worried about having the art
judged only on subject matter rather than the merit of the entire piece.
He is afraid of subject matter being out of taste and has made that a major
issue. Maybe he is right, Maybe I should have chosen another but it was
such a good piece I felt it made you think about the struggle of the Jews
and not anything further. Any thoughts?

Ken Schwab
bicyclken@earthlink.net

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