Classroom Management

What to Do With Unavoidable Nudes

Unavoidable Nudes

On trips outside of school, we don’t always have control over what our students do and do not see. For example, this time of year I usually take fourth graders to the local art center and outdoor sculpture park. There is a nude around every corner! So what’s a conscientious art teacher to do?

Here are a few quick talking points you can use with students when approaching those unavoidable nudes or other controversial art outside your classroom.

1. What is an artist’s job?

To make something beautiful? Sometimes. But sometimes they make things that make you feel angry, happy, or even uncomfortable. You might see something that makes you smile, frown, or even want to laugh today.

2. The human body isn’t gross or wrong.

Clothes help us tell what kind of person we might be looking at, like a crown on a king, or a coat on someone cold. When artists use nude people in their art, they want us to think about all people or bigger ideas.

3. It is ok to look!

It is even ok to feel like you might want to point or giggle. However, you are strong art appreciators and know that even though we might feel this way, we can control our actions so that we don’t ruin the experience for others.

4. It is ok to talk with your parents about it.

In fact you should! You might learn together about art, or have a conversation about how we should react when things shock us.

How do you prepare you students for museum experiences?

Do have any go-to talking points for your students?

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.


Sarah Dougherty

Sarah Dougherty, a visual arts curriculum coordinator, is a former AOEU Writer and elementary school art educator. She loves working with diverse populations to bring art into students’ homes, communities, and everyday lives.

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