I sat on this post for quite a few days, debating the post itself. Whether or not to call this subject up and start a discussion…AND that is what it boiled down to …if we do not have a discussion. Nothing changes.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
The opinions expressed in this post belong to me…YUP me. Miriam Rieck. This is my blog. I do not claim to represent ANYONE else in Brazos Valley…just myself.
….I think it is difficult, if not impossible, to grow up in this culture and not enter into adulthood with some sense of lingering shame or fear surrounding our own bodies and wants and voice. there are so many conflicting messages (don’t be a slut. don’t be a prude. don’t wear this. don’t say that. be pretty. be nice. make sure they like you. bend yourself to fit their form and then maybe they will never leave.) and it creates a kind of constant chatter in the mind, telling us how we are failing or not measuring up or about to transgress in some kind of unforgivable way.
Isabel Faith Abbot
This is going to be a bit of a long post. Sorry…sort of. It is time for this to come out of the closet…so to speak.
Brazos Valley has a dirty secret….Artists are censored. Brazos Valley condones and actively participates in the habit of shame… There it is in Black and White…NOW that being said…NOT ALL of Brazos Valley does this…..just a decent portion of it….even the Art League-which by the way is supposed to support Artists…supports Censorship in their member shows.
We, as Artists are not allowed to show in public any ART that is deemed offensive or inappropriate….when you figure out what that is as an ARTIST, please feel to comment below….
So here is how I came to be exposed to it…
I am an Artist. I am a photographer. I live in College Station. I am the creator of the Wylde Woman Art Show. Our first show was last year (2014). A local art gallery (Artist sold and moved due to lack of sales and cost of maintaining said gallery) hosted our show…for free-it cost me about $200 bucks to put the show on…everything else was donated….
2014 Theme: Celebration of the Female Figure. It featured 21 artists and 40+ pieces of art MANY of them full NUDES…hell I was a model for one of the photographers…WE had 600 people show up for the 10 day span it was open (by the way the amount of people that showed up FAR SURPASSED anyone else’s art show reception before or since)….AND NO ONE complained…in fact the talk about the show went on for several months after that… which led me to decide to do a 2015 show…this time I sought help from another local artist whose work was not able to be shown because Nudes are a large portion of her art.
2015 Theme: Challenging Accepted Gender Stereotypes and Archetypes. Male and Female Nudity was allowed in this. No pornographic Images would have been allowed (and yes it was going to be the decision of the three people involved) AND each image had to have a one paragraph explanation of why the artist had chosen to portray this image and what was it challenging. We started a Facebook Board to encourage conversation about it as well. WE never anticipated having difficulty getting the show into a space. We had timed it to match a First Friday Weekend ( a local monthly event) and it was only going to run for that weekend. Art was to come down on Sunday. Reception would have been held on Saturday night. The first place we approached was just a little too expensive…4K for the weekend but they had no issues for the content.
The second place we approached PROCLAIMED loudly to support the local arts scene and is located literally in one of the busiest traffic areas in the Historical Downtown Area of Bryan. We had started to advertise all over the state of Texas. Make plans to have packages for out of town guests with a local Downtown Hotel. There was going to be an auction of the pieces…we were even getting outside of Texas Attention from Artists….
We set the meeting with the “space” and had the meeting…it seemed the answer was a resounding yes…after all this would benefit the host as well and a price had been set and agreed upon…One week later I receive an email telling me that they are going to have to renege on the deal because the content was deemed inappropriate for their space AND because of potential political risk (whatever that meant).
NOW keep in mind WE had not even had our first entry come in so we had no way of knowing what the imagery was going to look like. Long story short and a conversation later, I was still getting resounding no’s and the no’s were piling in because the content was deemed inappropriate. We discuss not holding the show and then lo and behold we find a benefactor in the form of Arsenal Tattoo (Cliff Collard and his wife are the BOMB btw and awesome tattoo shop-I got my latest one there) AND he says NO CHARGE…
Long story short, we cancelled the show this year for several reasons…but we had at that point become VERY aware of the seriously skewed ART support that this town exhibits to Nudity and Semi Nudity….period….and honestly it kind of pissed me off and set my right and wrong bells dinging as well….
So here is Part II…..
This past Friday AT a First Friday, the local University Photography Arts Teacher brings his classes to show at the very space we wanted to rent…in fact it must be noted here that the Local University is a HUGE University and it is essentially the reason Bryan/College Station exists….AND the Class has had shows here before..
So in comes the work, it is hung and in comes one of the managers of this “space” and GASPS and deems two of the images inappropriate and places taped black paper over the OFFENSIVE parts…..Now before you look at the images….here are some things to consider:
CENSORSHIP: cen·sor·ship ˈsensərˌSHip/ noun
the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts.2. Censorship — the control of the information and ideas circulated within a societyHere is a link that really explores what Censorship is: http://gilc.org/speech/osistudy/censorship/
And to make it a little clearer, I understand that Censorship occurs in lots of different forms…however to tell a group of Artists that they cannot display work that is deemed as community inappropriate and they support this philosophy quietly by refusing to hang it..OR place black tape over it….or REFUSE to rent you the space…
….quite frankly this is the same philosophy that led to Hitler burning books he deemed inappropriate and yes this discourse can travel along paths of personal accountability, good parenting…and…..long heated discussions in general…but for this post I am dealing strictly with my community and it’s approach to Nudity and Semi-Nudity in public spaces designated for ART….
Quite frankly would you take a child to go see Fifty Shades of Grey??? Well then if you enter an ART Gallery/Show you need to assume that ART ….IN ALL ITS FORMS….is going to be present….AND if you are an ART Supporter you are a supporter WITHOUT conditions OF that support…GASP yes that is an adult response….and GASP yes I take personal accountability very seriously BUT then I also believe in Freedom to Think, Create, Speech, Love…..and if it is uncomfortable for me…then I don’t support it…I CERTAINLY do not tell someone that they have to stop doing it BECAUSE it makes me UNCOMFORTABLE.
AND yes this conversation can go on for days…..But here are the stories of the photographers and their images.
J.G.’s Story: My assignment was using color to depict emotion, so we had to incorporate color either on our models or our setting to give the “feel” of our photo to our audience. We each said a word out loud in class (so that we wouldn’t pick the same word), put it in a bottle, we each picked out a word and kept it secret to see if we could guess the emotion the following week. I was assigned the word “arousal” and decided to use warm colors, red, and black for sure. This was for TAMU’s Advanced Photography class.
I have seen more cleavage in Lingerie Ads, TV shows, magazine covers, social media….HELL walking down the DAMN street here in College Town than these two images show…..
So here is the questions I leave you with….
Why is it that we are fine with watching characters on TV get shot, stabbed, decapitated and violently brutalized, but not fine with seeing human bodies in all their fabulous NATURAL glory? Why are we comfortable with buying children video games that encourage killing sprees, but not comfortable with going to Art Galleries/Shows where people explore all forms Art can come in?
Why do we expose and desensitize ourselves to one reality of life and not the other?
Children form their opinions of life and how they view things…including themselves BASED on their parental environment. If you as a parent teach your daughters to look upon Nudity as something that is nasty or disgusting or uncomfortable you have just taught them to be ashamed of their bodies…in other words ….you help to perpetuate SHAME and CENSORSHIP. You also teach your sons to perpetuate the outdated objectification of women. You teach children to perpetuate the outdated notions of what is and is not acceptable as love for anything…or anyone else….
And yes I fully expect this to enflame conversation within Bryan/College Station…GOOD I hope so….Flame Away in the Comments below