Art Censorship?


Tonight, I was surfing my facebook in between things to do and a cigarette break and I came across a very disturbing status update by one of my dear artist friends here in Bemidji. She was informed today that her Beaver that she designed for the Bemidji Sculpture Walk Beaver Project was being removed because it was obscene and pornographic.

Last year, where my sculpture now sits was a beautiful sculpture that was molded of a males nude body. There was not fuss raised and it was not removed.  Firstly, I will post the story behind Deborah Davis’s Beaver she designed and put all of her hard work into.

Name: Gaea
by Deborah A Davis
Gaea means Mother Earth and God is Gracious

That the fertile earth itself is female, nurturing mankind is a belief that crosses culture, time and borders. Gaea means Mother Earth. It also means “God is Gracious,” and is one of the 52 feminine aspects of God in the Christian Bible. Gaea in mythology was a female Titan. If we could embrace the strength of womaness, celebrate it, we would become the people we are meant to be: nuturing, loving, whole.

On a side note: While painting this, the gulf oil disaster occurred… and I couldn’t help thinking, if we could incorporate this… become less gluttoness and more sacrificial, the world would be more like the home it is meant to be for us and our children.

Photos by Amy Borden Nelson

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I am not the one who has taken these photos. But, they are now the ones that I am using due to the pure and simple fact that the Beaver has been removed and is no longer up for photographing. I am utterly disgusted with the fact that the city has removed this Beaver. No art should be censored. That is why it is art. And why when it is regarding mother nature. I think that the artist story tells the entire piece and when I view the Beaver I could view the story that she has wrote. I became one with her piece.

If you are an artist or a citizen who is against this unfair decision and movement by the city council it is best to follow the below information that I have copy and pasted that I received in an email from the artist herself. I strongly urge whether you are a citizen of this city or even an artist in another area who is against art censorship to please voice your concerns.

A letter or email would be most effective to John Chatin at city hall 317 4th Street NW Bemidji. 759-3565 City attorney: Al Felix at same address 759-3575 A letter to The Pioneer (1320 Neilson Ave SE Bemidji) would also be beneficial, perhaps other organizations who help us stand for our rights and inform the public. We have had bare penis in sculpture(Mitch Blessings wonderful piece all last year for instance), but this is not the first time female ones have been removed or rejected. There’s something decidedly strange, unbalanced and wrong about this. Gaea was subtle, feminine, colorful, and well responded to by the majority. But a few sexist/and or vengeful folk with other than pure motives have made this celebration of the female aspect of diety and earth deemed pornographic. vengeful folk with other than pure motives have made this celebration of the female aspect of diety and earth as obscene.

I have also copy and pasted the merriam dictionary definition of the word pornographic.

Main Entry: por·nog·ra·phy

Pronunciation: \-fē\

Function: noun

Etymology: Greek pornographos, adjective, writing about prostitutes, from pornē prostitute + grapheinto write; akin to Greek pernanai to sell, porosjourney — more at farecarve

Date: 1858

1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
2 : material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
3 : the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction <the pornography of violence

http://www.merriam-webster.com/netdict/pornographic

I spoke with John Chattin myself this morning. He wished to give no information and stated it was his decision to deem it inappropriate. He said that he made the decision himself and when I asked if it was only him who held the decision he stated that “we” talked about it. I questioned him as to who “we” was. I asked if it was the city council and he stated that they were his boss.  I asked for information on what they felt was inappropriate of it and he wished to give no information and stated that we could attend the city council meeting in Bemidji on July 6th at 7:00 pm.

Please if anyone knows how to go about handling this or what organizations will help artists stand up for their rights; please send me an email with the information at shanna.olsen@live.com. This is a terrible thing. No art should be censored.

Even if you are an artist and do not live in the area and are very upset about this: please write the Bemidji Pioneer or write a letter to the city council. The information with addresses or fax numbers was listed above.

Thank you so much. What a terrible tragedy.

Love, Peace and Friendship.

Shanna Mae

NOTE EDITED:

Anyone who would like to send an email that is not going to be able to be present for the city council meeting; Please do so. But please keep in mind to remain calm while writing the email. It is often so easy to get upset and frustrated and act on those emotions only later to result in a bigger mess or not getting to say things clear and concise. Please take the time to put in your voiced concern. We need all the help we can get! I would like to know if organizations that may be able to assist us with this.
John Chattin
jchattin@ci.bemidji.mn.us
Al Felix
alanfelix@ci.bemidji.mn.us
Also if you are on Facebook; please join this group to bring Gaea back to our sculpture walk!

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shanna Mae
    Jul 03, 2010 @ 02:23:23

    Anyone who would like to send an email that is not going to be able to be present for the city council meeting; Please do so. But please keep in mind to remain calm while writing the email. It is often so easy to get upset and frustrated and act on those emotions only later to result in a bigger mess or not getting to say things clear and concise. Please take the time to put in your voiced concern. We need all the help we can get! I would like to know if organizations that may be able to assist us with this.

    John Chattin
    jchattin@ci.bemidji.mn.us
    Al Felix
    alanfelix@ci.bemidji.mn.us

    Also if you are on Facebook; please join this group to bring Gaea back to our sculpture walk!
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-back-Gaea-to-the-Bemidji-Sculpture-Walk/125993044109092

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Northfield’s Riverwalk Arts Quarter finds a home for Bemidji’s Gaia beaver scuplture « Locally Grown Northfield
  3. Amy
    Jul 07, 2010 @ 00:20:37

    I am so sorry to do this, but the photograph of the girls with the statue will need to be removed. Deborah used this photo with out waiting for my ok. I would not mind but my cousins children are also in this photo and she did not give her consent to having them used on other peoples pages. I do have a picture on my page in which I have cropped the girls out from the bottom and just left one of my daughters in the top with the statue. You are welcome to use that one. Also the photo collage of the statue was taken from Julie Saari’s This is my town Bemidji blog and facebook page. I know this photo is copyrighted so you should probably give her credit for the photo and should probably contact her about using it. Have a great day!

    Reply

    • Shanna Mae
      Jul 07, 2010 @ 06:15:10

      Ok! I will do that. Sorry about that. What is her name? So I may give credit. I’m using my phone right now to answer but as soon as I get to a computer I will remove the photo.

      Reply

  4. Bob Collins
    Jul 10, 2010 @ 03:24:02

    Hello. I’m on TPT’s Almanac tonight as a member of the media panel. On each appearance, we pick a Web site in Minnesota worthy of note. Tonight, I’ll be mentioning yours, because of your role in publicizing the Bemidji beaver story, and also because other news outlets picked up the story based partly on your “reporting” and offered no credit.

    Thought you’d like to know.

    Reply

  5. Joni
    Jul 13, 2010 @ 23:11:17

    What a beautiful artwork! I have to admit, the placement and design of the woman’s hands are suggestive, but so what? It’s not pornographic in the sense that it does not depict or even suggest erotic acts. It’s no more pornographic than the stylized penises which are very popular in art and architecture, or the male nudes which may be seen in many a museum or other public place. I think it’s the whole connection of goddess / earth / female reproductive organ / beaver that gives some people the willies (puns intended.)

    I hope this Beaver enjoys a long and honorable career as a display of very reverent, beautiful, and thought-provoking artwork. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to put her on a T-shirt, postcard, poster, etc. You could do this through an operation such as Zazzle or CafePress.

    Reply

  6. MORPH
    Jul 15, 2010 @ 16:50:42

    Hi there friend! I decided I might drop by with a brief comment given that I’ve invested the better part of the previous 30 minutes browsing through your posts. I’m just constantly stunned at the level of quality of blog commentary that I can easily find on the internet by hitting the “I’m Feeling Lucky” option on Google! At any rate I will not use up anymore of your time, I merely wanted to say hello there and keep up the good work.

    Reply

  7. roulettetricks
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 12:43:39

    Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

    Reply

  8. rulett szisztema
    Jul 22, 2010 @ 18:45:13

    I cannot believe this will work!

    Reply

  9. rayrae runyon
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 23:26:31

    that terrible! no art should ever be cencored. i as an artist and art lover find that appauling and will do anything to help.

    Reply

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