Recently, I ran across an article about an elementary school in Colorado that took a group of fifth graders to an art museum…
I just want to let that soak in. I know, I know. Incredible, isn’t it? I can’t believe the audacity of that art teacher. What’s crazy about it is that it was even approved by the principal! How dare he do that! Imagine a teacher wanting to take kids to see art that includes, ahem, nude sculptures. N-U-D-E. Nude. Kids can’t handle that.
And then the parents. They all signed permission slips! Every one of the kids who went had a signed slip from the parents. The nerve of those parents, if they can even call themselves that. Who allows their child unfettered access to such disgraceful places that house paintings that could possibly include semi-clothed people, sculptures that show even more, and God knows what else.
This country is going to hell. I don’t mean literal hell, as I am leaving spirituality out of this for a second. I just mean that we are shooting ourselves in the foot. A parent in Georgia is calling for a ban of Harry Potter. An art teacher is fired for going to an art museum on a principal-endorsed, parental-permission given trip. The teacher has been teaching for 28 years! She is almost 60! But some kids came back and apparently told mom and/or dad that there were breasts exposed in 3-D form, and then chaos ensued.
How did we get to this point? I’m glad these articles aren’t exposing these people as Christians and not making it a religious issue. We have it bad enough. But it leads to me to think about our own inability to just absorb art on a grand scale, even that which we disagree with. Music is so broken down by genres that we don’t have to take in any other forms. Books are categorized in the same way. Movies have not only genres but ratings, and now art is simply doing the same. How long until you have “Nudes” in one room, “Scantily Clad” in another. All paintings, sculpture, sketches that could remotely give me a snippet of an idea of what a male or female might look like without clothes should all be stored up in one closet so that perverts can just be put together, I suppose.
When you and I refuse to be challenged or shaped by different political viewpoints, we become closed-minded, dogmatic and really no good to anyone. Does this have consequences in the art world as well? When you and I refuse to listen to the talents of others, to view something that is different, to take in beauty in all its forms, do we miss out on what true beauty really is? I would answer that we do.
Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.