This last week when Patrick and I were in Chicago, and I use the word Chicago very loosely here, to avoid admitting where we really were. (Of course if one were to persuade me-a box of Franzia might do the trick-then that hypothetical person might be able to get me to admit over a hypothetical glass of Franzia White Zin, with ice thank you, that we only actually spent two nights in Chicago and the rest of our time in a very well to do, very conservative suburb called Wheaton.)
The reason I would be so loathe to admit to being in Wheaton (if it is not self-evident) is because this city is home to hands down, the worst private college in the country (Ok, maybe not really the worst – I think Pensacola, or Oral Roberts might win that contest…but still…Wheaton houses my least favorite college, and really, isn’t that enough?) Also, it is literally swarming with students who attend said college, and who are happy to extol its virtues in my cynical, don’t want to hear it face. After finishing our box of wine and moving on to the death by chocolate ice cream coated in a thin layer of cocaine, I might be prepared to admit that I also happened to attend this school. and nothing, nothing could ever convince me to set foot back on that campus. Unless someone who I happened to love, like a lot, was having an art show that was interesting, and beautiful, and threatened to be shut down, and also if that person paid me a couple hundred dollars and her firstborn child.
In her case, the controversy stems from nude drawings. It is hard to believe that any art department that takes itself seriously would have a problem with nudity, but this is Wheaton College after all. The drawings, which are beautiful, are not suggestive or pornographic in the least, and yet there is a rule in the Wheaton College art dept. that says nudity is not acceptable, in any form. While we are free to study the masters nudes, in class and out, we are absolutely not allowed to try our own hand at human anatomy unless it involves tighty-whities, or better yet, a swimsuit. Which is, in fact, what the models had to wear in my figure drawing class. go figure.
This is Maggie. If I were in administration at Wheaton College, I would totally love her show and let her do whatever she wanted.
This is the introduction to the gallery. Her show was titled “Crane.” The metal sculpture represents the neck of a crane and inside the gallery, the work hangs by metal cords, as if suspended by this crane.
Here are two of her drawings, my two favorites, before she was forced to cover them:
I love her juxtaposition of the mechanical with soft flesh. Her style has always been somewhat casual, but demonstrates an intimate knowledge of human anatomy. Why censor drawings like this? I mean, what, really is the college afraid of?
Here are pre-censor/post-censor photos:
I mean, I am glad that she was able to use fabric and nails, to maintain consistency with the theme of the show, but even at that, it was iffy if it would be allowed to stay up, and I would still be less than surprised if she was asked to remove the show in the next week. If she is not, I can guarantee you that it is only because certain people remain blissfully unaware of the filth and squalor that is being displayed in the art gallery right now. After all, why would they willingly venture into a department that holds students still naive enough to believe in free thinking. Clearly if they are not in the Bible Dept, they are not doing any real Good, and are superflous. Clearly.
In conclusion, my only suggestion for solving the problem boils down to this:
Now, if only someone had shown this to Dean Powers’ mother
…not because he really had anything to do with this particular incident, just that he is the sort of person who Wheaton College would be better off if his mother had considered alternate options… like birth control.