National anti-censorship group decries removal of BGSU artwork

HURON The dispute over the censorship of a sculpture exhibit at BGSU Firelands has gone national.
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

 

HURON

The dispute over the censorship of a sculpture exhibit at BGSU Firelands has gone national.

The National Coalition Against Censorship, based in New York City, condemned BGSU Firelands’ removal of a sculpture by Pennsylvania artist James Parlin from the Little Gallery on campus.

Related article: March 22, 2009 - Art exhibit censored at BGSU Firelands

The decision by interim Dean James Smith to remove “The Middle School Science Teacher Makes a Decision He’ll Live to Regret,” which depicts the apparent sexual abuse of a child, prompted the gallery’s director, David Sapp, to shut down the exhibition of the 12 remaining works.

“The recent removal of artwork by James Parlin from an exhibition of sculpture in the Little Gallery at Bowling Green State University Firelands is an unacceptable violation of the academic freedom to openly discuss ideas and social problems in a public university, whether these ideas are expressed in books, in the classroom or in a visual form in the gallery,” the group’s statement said. “The removal of the work at a public university also raises serious First Amendment concerns.”

If the university were concerned about exposing children to controversial artwork, it could take other steps, including closing the gallery during children’s productions at the theater next to the gallery, the group said.

“Another option might have been to post a sign informing parents that the content of the exhibition may be inappropriate for young children,” the statement said.

Sapp said Monday that the doors of the gallery were locked during children’s theater performances of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

He said he would have been willing to discuss a compromise that included putting up a sign.