Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to order books and videos for my art room. I was so excited to be able to further enhance and integrate my lessons with these awesome tools. I love integrating stories and art. But, I had one predicament…sometimes art depicts naked people! Oh the humanity! I delayed the introduction of these materials until I could look through them. Responsible, right?
Some art contains the naked human form. That is how it has always been, and that is how it will always more than likely be. As art educators, I know it’s our job to inform and educate our young artists, but where do we draw the line? While I take steps to prevent any unnecessary potential for controversy, I briefly acknowledge when nude or naked art presents itself. When this happens, I briefly discuss with my students that some view the human body as art, and so those artists choose to depict the human body in their artwork. It is what it is, and the mature and respectful thing to do is to acknowledge it and move on.
I am usually of the philosophy “better safe, than sorry” (and still am), but after reviewing some videos and taking a couple weekends to familiarize myself with the stories and scour the pages of these new, informative, relevant, and fantastic books, cutting out perfectly sized, one-of-a-kind undies and tops was getting to feel a tiny bit tedious. I ended up switching to just plain rectangles. I did indeed provide layers for all of those images that looked a little “cold” before they entered the art room library, and will continue to review all materials as best I can before introducing them. But, I still wonder: Is there a right or wrong answer to this, or are there just too many variables to consider?
What is your stance on art room censorship?
What do your discussions with your students look and sound like about this topic?
At what age, if any, is it appropriate to share nude art?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.