Magazine article Conscience

Nude Body Beautiful. (Roundtable)

Magazine article Conscience

Nude Body Beautiful. (Roundtable)

Article excerpt

OUT OF THE DESIRE TO RESPECT EACH others' diversity of cultures, views, ethnicities and religious or moral values, comes the rationale that art that might be perceived as offensive by one person or group should not be shown. But almost any image may be distressing to someone. Should work that is meaningful to many not be shown because it may make a few feel uncomfortable? Should those who find something shameful or embarrassing in the image of the nude body be allowed to brand it as shameful for everyone else?

I have been making a series of paintings of my own body and its skeletal interior as it is deformed by scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. I want my work to be seen by people who may not be frequenters of art galleries or exhibitions, especially those with disabilities or issues concerning their bodies. For that reason, I welcome opportunities to show my work in public spaces and non-traditional settings.

However, along with a growing interest in and appreciation for my work, the presence of nudity appears to present problems for a number of exhibition spaces. In 2001, my work was rejected by the US Senate venue of "eMotion Pictures: An Exhibition of Orthopaedics in Art." Recently, a prominent university medical center told me they had to "operate with care re having works involving nudity in the hospital," and could only exhibit certain of my images, even though "everyone here recognizes the profound beauty and meaning of your work."

The objections to nudity may have their basis in a religious tradition that separates "body" from "soul," finding one base and the other spiritual. But the making, or viewing, of something visually compelling, whole or beautiful enables us to feel wholeness and beauty in ourselves.

Our culture bombards us with images of "perfect" bodies and pressures to conform to this ideal. …

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