The photo art work ‘Quotidian’ by Betsy Schneider documents the artist’s daughter growing up in a series of photographs in which the girl is nude. The work was exhibited at and then removed from the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA, in response to complaints about nudity.
A coalition of artists, critics, academics and organisations sent a letter to the arts centre protesting the removal of photographs from its exhibit ‘The Kids Are All Right’.
The letter, sent by the National Coalition Against Censorship and co-signed by more than 30 people, asks the Kohler to stand by its initial curatorial decisions and return Schneider’s works to the exhibit, which is about changing notions of family.
To remove the work, the letter argues, “sends the message that the arts center agrees with the notion that exhibiting any photograph of a naked child is potentially problematic.”
The letter goes on to state the images of naked children are common in the history of art, citing Mary Cassatt’s painting ‘Mother and Child’, which hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, among others, as well as many family photo albums.
“The decision we made to remove Betsy Schneider’s work is one that we did not come to easily and was made with great regret,” Kohler wrote in an email to the NCAC that was shared with the Journal Sentinel.
“The decision-making process raised many difficult and competing issues for the arts center regarding our mission, our responsibility to the diverse audiences we serve on local, regional, and national levels, and of course, our relationships with artists through the exhibitions, long- and short-term residency programs, teaching opportunities, and much more.”
“The situation threatened to become so polarizing and divisive for individuals in our community that it would have severely hampered our ability to fulfill our mission to ‘make real the power of the arts to transform lives and strengthen communities’,” Kohler stated, who added that the issue would have disrupted the exploration of the exhibit and overshadowed the work of the other artists.
The art work ‘Quotidian’:
JS Online – 23 October 2012:
Artists and national organizations claim censorship at Kohler Arts Center
By Mary Louise Schumacher of the Journal Sentinel
Huffington Post – 24 October 2012:
Artists And National Organizations Claim Censorship At Kohler Arts Center