Sunday, September 4, 2016

Danger: Nudity! Will we leave the warnings about ourselves behind?

Nudes are as old as heaven and hell
There were intergalactic threats everywhere. The robot wildly flared its arms like a mechanized demon possessed. “Danger, Danger Will Robinson!”  If an art gallery reprogrammed the robot today, it might scream, “Danger, Danger. Contains Nudity!”  

If there is going to be wider acceptance of the human body as an art form, then we need to see more artistic nudes in public places. There are different approaches that venues take in displaying this kind of work. Some put up signs saying, “Warning or Attention. Contains Nudity” at the door. Some take it a step further:  I once saw a gallery where they attached sticky notes on the art itself to hide breasts and genitalia. The sticky notes also had written warnings about what lied beneath. Much of the thinking behind these approaches is to minimize the chances of offending people that visit the gallery. There is also another line of thought that parents will be upset if their children see non-sexual, artistic nudity. While venue owners may be well intentioned with these warnings, they diminish all of us by implying there is something inherently questionable about the human body.

No warning signs here for this beautiful work
Nudity has been present in art for thousands of years. If you go to an art gallery, then it is reasonable that you may see artistic nudity.  Two examples come to mind of venues that don’t put up warning signs, sticky notes or otherwise stigmatize the very art they purport to promote. The gallery where I currently exhibit my artistic male nudes has adults with children that visit. Rather than trying to hide their children from the work, parents let them look at it, ask questions and have a discussion about its purpose.  Another example: At the Denver Art Museum, they currently have on display a beautiful male nude sculpture. It was of a man who lost part of his leg. It told the story of how it ended his army career and but inspired him to become a paralympic athlete.

These two examples show the power of art to transform the way we see ourselves. In this case, it communicated an important teachable moment that our bodies are to be celebrated and not shamed!  These moments can only happen when are open and honest about who we are. Are we willing to leave the warnings about ourselves behind?

Feel free instead to join the discussion about this or other blog entries on my Facebook page. You can also follow me on Google + and comment there.

No comments:

Post a Comment