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Lisa Olivarez
07-20-2004, 02:00 PM
Hi all, I wonder if you all could give me some advice: I won a little contest the other day :) , a plein air event organized through the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts where we painted all morning and had our pieces judged at the end. Here is the piece, http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jul-2004/41640-plein_air_winner.jpgone of 4 I did I also sold a piece, it was posted here for critique a while ago, one of an evening looking over a german landscape.

Anyway, there was an artist there who owns a gallery. He was very interested in my work and asked me to show in his gallery. I show already in a little frame shop-gallery, and sell out of my studio. This new gallery, however, wanted to sign me up with a contract, solo show and the whole deal. It is larger, and many artists whose work I admire is shown there. I was of course very excited and scheduled an opening date, but took home the contract to look over.

Here is my dilemma; now, please keep an open mind. I know that some of you will find this ridiculuous, but try to be objective. I've already been scoffed at and supported in my decision, so don't worry about my feelings. :)
The artist who runs the gallery paints beautifully realistic female nudes. I believe that they are tastefully done, and not offensive in any pornographic way, however they definitely tiltilate.

My life right now is centered around raising and homeschooling my children. family must of needs be first. One of my sons, after viewing the paintings up in the gallery said, "she's not being very modest, is she?" about one of the paintings. How can I argue with that after encouraging my children to be modest themselves? I have 3 young sons and a daughter and many friends with sons and children who would want to see my work in a gallery. My work would hang alongside of these nudes. I think that I will not show at this gallery, what do you all think?

gratefully, Lisa Olivarez

jimb
07-20-2004, 02:20 PM
Lisa,
I don't find your predicament ridiculous at all. While I don't find anything wrong with artistic nudes, I'm an adult and can make my own choices. I don't feel that nudes are appropriate for every age. Obviously we are all extremely interested in our art here, but in my opinion, family comes first. Do what you think you must to raise them with the values that are important to you and don't let anyone talk you out of it.
Best wishes,
Jim

Khadres
07-20-2004, 02:31 PM
OK, you asked for opinions and I've always got PLENTY of those! :D

I think you will be doing a real disservice to your and your friends' children by NOT showing in this gallery or otherwise "protecting" them from nude art. When your son asked about the nude model's "modesty", you could've taken the opportunity to explain that that's not what the painting was about, at all. You could've explained that artists have been studying the human form for centuries...well, actually, longer than that...because it is one of God's most intricate and beautiful creations. It was a great opportunity to show how the artist had captured the skin tones and shadows just so, etc. and at the same time, you'd have been nipping in the bud a misconception that the human body is shameful and all that claptrap. THEN you could've explained why his own modesty is a totally separate thing, a personal privacy and self-regard issue. God knows, it's hard enough to teach children decent attitudes these days without adding to silly prejudices that can carry over into adulthood with some very bizarre results sometimes.

This issue has been a real "hot potato" lately in at least one art magazine...with irate letters from some who thought as you do about nude painting and equally irate ones from those who despise prudery and the imposition of it on others. So I'm trying to be understanding here and hope you take my comments in the spirit they're intended. Personally, I will always take the side of free expression, even when I think that expression is in poor taste. Protecting children from bias is at least as important as protecting their moral growth and is, in fact, part OF their moral growth...teaching them to see things in proper perspective rather than automatically labelling them as "right" or "wrong" before learning both sides. I just bet your children are a lot smarter than you might be giving them credit for.

Anyway, congratulations on being offered a chance to show in a successful, quality gallery! With luck, another will come along soon that restricts their content more to your liking.

Dark_Shades
07-20-2004, 02:59 PM
Dont think Im helping much here.... just sort of thinking out loud or in word :) ..... I dont think its a ridiculous dilema, but a confusing one, as it seems you have made your decision already, so not sure why you are asking the question... and why you took your son to the gallery if you knew there were nudes there..... You also said that the Nudes are beautifully done and tasteful... so it would be the type of person who gets titilated by Nudes regardless, not the art
Obviously it is entirely up to you where you choose to display your art.. and would depend on what matters most to you..... do you need the extra exposure? lol so to speak..... as you already show else where and sell from your own gallery

I must confess Loved Sooz reply :clap: ...... thought she put that across beautifully :)

SweetBabyJ
07-20-2004, 03:40 PM
Have to echo Sooz- there is nothing immodest about the nude human figure in art- and modesty, while a fine quality, can be taken too far, then we have prudery and people complaining ANY nude is pornographic. I think you have to decide which line you want to walk: Modesty, or reality. The reality is, there is nothing inherently wrong with the nude human body, and absolutely nothing wrong with portraying the nude figure in art. Kitty Wallis said something about it a long time ago- the reason we are so fascinated with the figure in art is because it is the one thing we all have in common and see every single day- the changes, the way the light hits, EVERYTHING.

Think of all the great art which centers around the nude figure- and what your children could be missing in their formative years- the time when they learn to appreciate so very much in art- because of a -perhaps- misplaced sense of modesty.

And, kids will pick up on how they SHOULD feel about it from how they perceive YOU feel about it. If you are matter of fact and able to celebrate the art shown, so, too, will they be.

Lisa Olivarez
07-20-2004, 04:11 PM
I like this discussion.

First, I should say that I studied the figure as much as the next artist with a BFA. As a young college student I fought my parents for the right to take life drawing/painting classes. I even modeled nude once, but the father of my childhood best friend was drawing that night, and it made me uncomfortable. Why? Why should it make me uncomfortable? Many would say it was due to my ingrained biases. Is that really all it's about?

We are beautiful, there is no question about that. But we are also sexual creatures. There is much more involved in our relationship with our bodies than mere beauty. Sexuality is much more powerful than the beauty of a flower, and bodies and sex cannot easily be separated. Who among you would feel entirely comfortable placing a beautiful, realistic nude of the opposite gender in your spouse's or girl/boyfriend's office?

I don't think shame even comes into it, or prudery for that matter. I am not a prude, but I want to promote a healythy attitude in my childrens' lives. If we want to talk of reality, than how can we ignore the sexual aspect of the human body? It is made for sex.

It is the pop culture that has created bias. Hollywood has perverted it. Sex is saturating every aspect of our culture. Every TV show is about it, almost every ad uses it to sell. We are forced on the news to hear about everyone's bedroom behavior. My take is that we are living in a society where it is almost impossible to take the human form for what it is.

Kitty Wallis
07-20-2004, 04:39 PM
I agree with Sooz. She said it so well I don't have to repeat it.

I left a gallery successfully selling my work in Santa Fe because the owner was against nudes in his gallery. I found this out when I offered a nude in water to the gallery, similar to the one attached.

meshuggah
07-20-2004, 04:57 PM
Does that person have a website? It would be interesting to see the work in question here.

I feel for you. I have a 2 year old girl and one on the way. My house if full of figurative pieces.

Lisa Olivarez
07-20-2004, 05:00 PM
Yes, Kitty, but your painting is about a woman almost communing with water. I don't know why it was refused.
How does that compare with paintings specifically about the body of a young woman?

Are you guys saying that all subject matter has equal emotional weight, and that every genre is appropriate for every audience?

ps, the comment about the model's modesty was made to my husband, and i didn't hear about it till home, hence no reply to him from me . What did you think i did? clap my hands over his eyes and drag him from the gallery? I didn't know what paintings were there, in fact at the time, i didn't even think of the nudes as posing any conflict until later. now I'm thinking about it LO

Kathryn Wilson
07-20-2004, 05:13 PM
I'll agree with what Sooz has said - and can only add this - will you not to take your children to an art museum, ever?? I will guarantee you that there will be nudes - I think if you handle this situation well, there will not be a problem in the future - but the time to handle it is now, not when they are older and full of even more questions.

SweetBabyJ
07-20-2004, 05:54 PM
It is the pop culture that has created bias. Hollywood has perverted it. Sex is saturating every aspect of our culture. Every TV show is about it, almost every ad uses it to sell. We are forced on the news to hear about everyone's bedroom behavior. My take is that we are living in a society where it is almost impossible to take the human form for what it is.


Exactly! And now you have a chance to show your kids that there's a different way to look at nudes- one that isn't about down and dirty sex, one that isn't cheap and sleazy, but celebrates that which makes being human a pretty spiffy deal.

So the pieces have an erotiscism- so? *If* any of my sons had ever said anything about such an appeal to me while they were growing up and seeing the world's art, I'd've said "Yeah, that one is very sensuous, isn't it?" and left it at that. It isn't like they didn't know what the word meant, and if they didn't, maybe it was time they learned.

So what does your husband think of it?

Edit: Two things- firstly: Kitty, psychologically, that is one VERY sexual painting. Just thought you should know that if'n you don't already.

secondly- One of the funniest-in-an-odd-way things to me about this site is we have to put a butt icon on anything remotely resembling a nude, but we can post pics of flower macros all day long. Has anyone ever take a good look at a flower macro from a symbolic and sexual viewpoint? I mean, they're naked botanical genitalia- there's phallic forms there, and a vaginal form- I'm always astonished when I realize some people are offended seeing humans, but not flowers.

CarlyHardy
07-20-2004, 08:10 PM
Lisa,
All of us can give advice and share our opinion, but still, the decision about what you do must come from you. I suggest you discuss the issue with your husband and with your children. Talking about personal modesty and the human figure in art is still possible and many good things to bring up in the conversation have been stated here. How would they feel if your art were in that gallery?

Modesty is not just about being clothed. True modesty comes from within.

carly

judwal
07-20-2004, 09:44 PM
In my opinion this is the perfect time to teach your children that the human body is beautiful and not something that they need to be ashamed of.

judwal
07-20-2004, 09:50 PM
Has anyone ever take a good look at a flower macro from a symbolic and sexual viewpoint? I mean, they're naked botanical genitalia- there's phallic forms there, and a vaginal form- I'm always astonished when I realize some people are offended seeing humans, but not flowers.
YOu're so right! Since I've painted dozens of flowers I can vouch for what you say is true. Sometimes I've almost had to blush when I look at what I've just painted! :D

Kitty Wallis
07-20-2004, 10:46 PM
Lisa,

A psychologist friend once enlightened me with this phrase. 'We create what we fear.'

We live in a culture that fears sex. Children are sexual beings as all humans are. They learn early to hide this from others, since in this culture childish displays of sexual feelings are shocking to a lot of people. When they are met with this silent pressure, they internalize it and from this conflict many different alienations with self are born. A common one is impaired sexual ability.

I believe we can communicate our mature, loving understanding of sexual issues to children in many non-verbal ways. Especially in our calm acceptance of their feelings and curiosity. They want to know what we think, feel, expect. They want to grow and develop. They want to know where we draw the line, what is acceptable behavior, do we accept them as they are or as they must learn to be?

K Taylor-Green
07-20-2004, 11:21 PM
Lisa, I agree with Carly, that the best people to discuss this with are your family, and you know, as an artist, that there is a big difference between art and pornography. Julie hit the nail on the head. A matter of fact attitude goes a long way in how a child percieves any controversial subject.
I think you should show in this gallery, and talk to your children as the young adults they are on their way to becoming.

prestonsega
07-21-2004, 02:38 AM
I was raised in a very strict religious, fanatical family,,,no shorts, even in the hot southern summer..no sleeveless shirts or tanktops,,,and I was never allowed to go shirtless!....,.men and women were not to swim together, women wore long dresses and could not cut their hair. Thank God for the monthly issue of National Geographic,,,if I could get hold of it before Dad cut out the pics of naked primative natives!!! and then there was the underwear section of the Sears catalog that for some reason stayed near the toilet! Dancing was also seen as a forbidden sexual foreplay....I studied really hard so as to graduate a year early from high school and get the heck out of Dodge....Do I need to paint a picture of my behavior for the next several years?????? I guess you could say I made up for lost time....and dang I loved every minute of debauchery I involved myself in...it's the forbidden fruit syndrome...Just like you, my parents did the best they could with what they had to work with,....and in the end, I think I turned out pretty well adjusted.( hush Julie!) I guess I am saying,,,follow your heart and do the thing you know to be best for you and your kids,,,there is no right or wrong decision to be made here.......the pendulum is going to swing!

Stoy Jones
07-21-2004, 03:17 AM
Well, call me prude, but there are a ton of variations of nude art and some of the more modern stuff that isn't considered "erotic" or porn is pretty darn lusty, I think! I'm a male who isn't dead just yet :D Thank goodness I'm happily married :evil: :D

I don't have a problem with my son looking at fine art, but some things I feel should be left for later or not at all, because I "know" him well enough to make that decision. Personally I live by the addage, "let kids be kids". You are only a kid for 10 to 12 years, but you are an adult for a whole heck of a lot more. Slow down and enjoy what's fleeting and can't ever be regained.

...But realistically, children are not cookie-cutter and one decision can't be made for all. You know yours (better than we do) and well enough to make the right decisions on what they can deal with and face at the appropriate age.


Stoy

artist_pw
07-21-2004, 03:58 AM
Hi:

I think the human form is a thing of glory and perfection in all shapes and sizes. I don't have any children myself, but if I did, I would always try to teach them this. While some intent of the nude forms are oriented for sexual purposes, is would be a shame to prevent fine art forms from children's viewing.

I've attended many figure drawing classes over the years, and have seen more nude models that I can possibly count. When I was young and going to school, I don't remember even one time when my mother, who is a Southern Baptist, ever had any problem with me attending any of these classes.

One of the best examples of the human form is Michangelo's statue of David, and this form is breathtakingly wonderful. Other examples of nude figures I really like are some of the 'Nude descending staircase' paintings by Marcel Duchamp. Hopefully, these and other fine examples might help explain nude figures in various artwork.

Lisa Olivarez
07-21-2004, 01:50 PM
Well.....
My husband and I have been discussing this topic nonstop for a few days now :) .
Last night we had a date, driving 1 1/2 hours through Amish country to dinner and to a molding outlet to buy some picture molding. ($1 an 8 foot piece for seconds!)

You know how it is on long drives, no kids, no interruptions, free thought time.
I'll say now that I'm softening toward showing in the gallery, and toward how to guide my kids through the intricate and perilous world of human sexuality...
JMB said, Do what you think you must to raise them with the values that are important to you and don't let anyone talk you out of it. We wonít.

As we raise our kids, Angel (my husband) and I search for absolute truth regarding a given subject. In many cases itís immediately apparent (donít steal) In other cases the line is not so clear. As Iím sure all of you with children do, we take our parenting responsibilities very seriously. When we encounter a new issue where we are unsure, and the answer is not obvious to us, we pray, research, and gather other peopleís thoughts. Ordinarily we stick to our parents and friends regarding child rearing issues, but this is an issue somewhat beyond their scope of understanding, and subject to knee-jerk reactions by itís very nature. Some immediately look at nude art and label it pornographic. Some want to appear to be open-minded, and embrace everything, regardless of itĎs degree of appropriateness to children. So, where do we go from here?

There are a couple of pieces of ancient wisdom that come to mind regarding the issue of human sexuality:

1. To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. (right time, right context, right level of maturity, different for each child) no, not originally Simon and Garfunkel LOL

2. Do not arouse or awaken love (desire) before itís time. (While a child of 2 has already discovered her sexuality, she canít and shouldnít have to grasp it in itís entirety.)

We donít seek to repress their natural and God-given sexuality. We want to guide them along the paths that will lead them to healthy maturity. As I said before, in this age where Victoriaís Secret models prance down the runway on prime-time TV and repose on Billboards 3 stories high in Chicagoís downtown, itís a tricky task. It seems to us, that the so-called freedom expressed through these ever-present images are a huge burden for kids. No-one with a conscience would leave a child of 7 alone in the wilderness, though he might survive, chances are he would be eaten or would not have sufficiently adequate nutrition for his optimal health.

I am happy to see that we all find we have the best interests of others at heart, and that we can listen to each other's opinions and learn from them. :clap: thanks for all of the wisdom, I'll let you know what we decide.

gratefully, Lisa :)

Lisa Olivarez
07-25-2004, 05:22 PM
Hello,
I just wanted to let anyone interested in this thread know that I have decided to show in this gallery. Your comments helped me immensely to sort through this issue. I came to the conclusion that I was overreacting, especially when I reviewed the gentleman's work, and I was not at all offended. I don't want anyone to think that I caved on a principle, the reason I posted the original question was to garner thoughts to sort. I am thrilled at the privilege to show, and now must get to work!

thanks again,
Lisa

M.A.
07-25-2004, 06:59 PM
Hello,
I just wanted to let anyone interested in this thread know that I have decided to show in this gallery. Your comments helped me immensely to sort through this issue. I came to the conclusion that I was overreacting, especially when I reviewed the gentleman's work, and I was not at all offended. I don't want anyone to think that I caved on a principle, the reason I posted the original question was to garner thoughts to sort. I am thrilled at the privilege to show, and now must get to work!

thanks again,
Lisa

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Lisa Olivarez
07-25-2004, 10:12 PM
:d :d :d

Khadres
07-26-2004, 01:18 AM
Not sure what that last message meant, but I'm so glad you decided to show in the gallery...I know you won't be sorry! Just think, now you have another venue for your work and you can get busy, like you say, and create all sorts of great stuff to show and sell! Good luck! :clap:

Mikki Petersen
07-26-2004, 03:31 PM
Lisa, I'm so happy for you having such a wonderful opportunity. The thought that occurred to me, while reading through this very interesting thread, is, "Why take your children to this gallery?" If the content concerns you, they need not be exposed to it until they are older. As for your friends' children, let your friends know there are nude paintings on display and they may make their own decision about taking the kids along when they visit.

A very close friend of mine, a psychologist with 30 years experience in family councilling, told me once, "Children will only accept what they can deal with, the rest they ignore." To only have your children see the tawdy examples of nudity (like TV and billboards you cannot control), prevents their being able to open communication on questions about their bodies. You mentioned that one of your children commented on one of the nudes...did any of the others? Preston's reference to "forbidden fruit" is truer than you might think. It is human nature to want that which is forbidden...look at Adam and Eve! Had they been allowed to discuss and question that apple, it might well have lost it's compelling quality.

While it is important to give your children limits and structures, it is also important to teach them tolerance of others and of ideas/behaviors different from those of the family. Finally, the lesson I taught my children and that they strive to teach their children is, there is very little in this world that is "bad" in itself, it is how it is used. That goes for the human body as well. For your daughter, I would be more concerned over the fact that nudes generally only celebrate beauty and perfection. There can be an interesting discussion around how interpretations of what is beautiful changes over time. My daughters were initially disgusted when they first saw nudes done by the masters of old in museums. "EEEEW! They are so fat!" How embarrassing!" From that we had a long discussion about the human form in all it's variations and how the shape of a body is not a good way to judge a person's worth. These experiences are a possitive balance to all the negative exposure forced on them by modern media.

Good luck with your new gallery and you will be in my prayers as you guide your young people through the perils of growing up.

Mikki Petersen
07-26-2004, 03:47 PM
One more thought...while on vacation last month with our twelve year old grandson, we visited our daughter in Seattle who is in a lesbian partnership with her significant other. Jacob has been around them at various times during his childhood and never noticed anything and it is something we do not point out to the kids. This time, at twelve, when he is beginning to grapple with his own sexuality, he quietly asked us one evening after visiting our daughter, if they were "you know". Jacob has been raised in a very religious Christian home and is very devote in following the teachings of the bible so we were a little worried about answering truthfully, but we told him that, yes, they were lovers and we were so happy they had found such a love. He was very quiet for a few minutes while I cringed and held my breathe. At twelve, beliefs are very rigid, after all. Finally, he said, "I guess that is okay. They are awesome people." Had we lied to him, he would have known we were lying and that it is something not okay to talk about. Instead, while it still bothers him, he now asks questions about it, which allows us to explain things that bewilder him and to help guide him in a more tolerant understanding of the behaviors of others.

A side note...our daughter told us that Jacob approached her and told her he loved her and that it saddened him she would not be with him in eternity. She bristled a bit and asked why, thinking it was the lesbian issue, and he told her it was because she was not Christian (she and her partner are agnostic) and he would be praying for her and her partner to take Jesus into their hearts. So, see, we adults, so embroiled in our own issues and prejudices, tend to project thoughts onto our kids when they are thinking in an entirely different direction.

Lisa Olivarez
08-01-2004, 12:29 PM
For your daughter, I would be more concerned over the fact that nudes generally only celebrate beauty and perfection. Mikki

I agree, and we limit such things as playing with Barbie dolls, opting instead for family or career based play. We talk about images and beauty, and fat and pimples and imperfections...we talk about healthy exercise and eating...all of these subjects are an everyday part of our conversation.
By the way, Mikki, you have a wonderfully courageous 12 year old grandson! It takes guts to question adult behavior, and it sounds like he did it in a very respectful manner. Quite a sticky situation all around. On the one hand you don't want to "bias" him against his Christian beliefs, and on the other hand you respect your lesbian daughter's right to choose her lifestyle.:)

:clap: :clap: I am so glad to live in the United States, where beliefs of others are not dictated by governmental control. I do think these freedoms are threatened here in the USA, and that people from both conservative and liberal camps must be careful not to over-legislate behavior. :clap:

But... we really have digressed from the discussion of art and I apologize for not having started this thread in the forum for Art and Society. :o Lisa

Ruth Grinstead
08-02-2004, 07:51 AM
Lisa - A very interesting thread and I am glad you reached a decision you are happy with.

I can sympathise as I recently attended a life drawing workshop and I was concerned about letting my children see the work I had done, as my upbringing would have frowned on anything like nudes.

Then I realised that at the moment they were getting very unbalanced information from the magazine shelf in the supermarket anyway, which seemed to suggest that women always take their clothes off and pose with an aim to arouse men. It is difficult to shield them from constant exposure to this type of image.

So they have seen all my work, we have discussed it and I think we have all benefitted from it.

Ruth