Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What Would Austin Do?

I'd be more outraged about this story if I'd lived somewhere other than Harrisburg six months ago (ten feet from the school that was adding creationism to its curriculum.)

ASIDE: thanks to Irene for catching me up on this whole thing.
Clearly, I live in a bubble.

The short of it: Frisco art teacher takes kids to the art museum. Kid is offended by nudity (or describes nudity to parent, who is instantly offended) Teacher is given option to resign or be fired.

Damn.

Now, for the record, I agree that kids should not b be able to pull up porn in the school library. I'm a parent. I see value in sheltering my kid from images of violence and perversion in an unstructured context. But an Art Museum is hardly an unstructured context. In order for a piece of work to hang in the DMA, it goes through a pretty serious filter: art professionals who've spent a lifetime studying and ultimately curating and presenting art for public consumption. And I imagine that job is a little more difficult to do in Dallas than it is in New York City. One of many reasons why I like this city: it is NOT New York City.

The DMA is not the Whitney, after all. Or even the Fort Worth Modern. The DMA is pretty tame by art standards. This city has made so much progress in the development of its art offering. The Nasher Sculpture Garden, is only the latest in a string of moves designed to uplift Dallas' artistic profile. Kids need to be exposed to art (and the occasional representation of "no-no parts") to gain some perspective. It is exactly the kind of experience that helps them to distinguish between a nude and latest promo pic.

It's a pretty tight line to walk exposing kids to anything in this day and age without the fear that one in 50,000 children will be offended by something you put in front of them. And firing someone over a single instance of "indecent exposure" seems a litttle excessive. Even by Texas' conservative standards.

The Frisco school system would have you believe this just one of many things wrong with this teacher's performance. Be that as it may, it's hard to say that sharing the DMA with a group of fifth graders could be construed as one of the "many things".

The question isn't whether or not the teacher should be fired. It sounds like she should, for a bunch of reasons that have nothing to do with once child being offended by an unnamed artwork at the DMA. The question is, why does this city take the words of one student in 50,000 and turn it into an indictment of the school system, the school board, the DMA and the appropriateness of art for school children?

And what's next?

1 comment:

Make the logo bigger said...

Yeah, when I saw that, I was like, c'mon. But then you also have people in North Dakota running book burnings around the same time.

Here's where I net out:

We're all fucked up.