Tolerance should extend to student art

On April 17, eight pieces of art by PVCC students and faculty were removed from a display at the Maricopa County Community College District office in Tempe due to employees’ complaints.

Connie McBride, a part time art student who has been studying art at PVCC since 2006, had her work removed from the display.

Connie McBride, a PVCC art student, had her work removed from an art display at the MCCCD office in Tempe. (Photo by John Dill, Puma Press Blogging Editor)

Ceramic bas-relief nudes comprised the offending work. The complaints from female employees expressed the workers’ discomfort around the display and fell into the category of sexual descrimination complaints.

Artists responded by decrying the perceived infringement of freedom of speech.

This is all very awkward.  Students proud of their work, who were invited to display it at District, now taste rejection from the education system instead of the affirmation that the invitation initially  inspired. The unfortunate turn of events is not a first.

In February 2006, campus security tore down a graphic display of student art in the then-new PVCC Center for Performing Arts.  The display, which featured several four-letter words, was mistaken for vandalism.  The entire collection of student work was then removed from the hallway to a side room where only those who intended to view it would do so.  Again, students raised cries of censorship and expressed the sting of the perceived rejection.

I fear that this kind of incident feels to students like a betrayal by the very system that is a nurturing force in their lives.

While I respect the sexual discrimination complaints and understand that they tend to overpower the first ammendment arguments in a court of law, I regret that this event has potentially disheartened students, contrary to the mission of education.

If we’re going to promote diversity and tolerance in the community colleges, and we do, shouldn’t this tolerance extend to student art displays?

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One thought on “Tolerance should extend to student art

  1. Janice Semmel says:

    Sadly, some things never change. The squeaky wheel always seems to get its way. Instead of finding out something about the faculty and students that produced the art and their thoughts behind it, employees used the sexual descrimination complaint to remove the art. To bad the employees didn’t take a moment to learn and enjoy something new, but that’s their loss. In this day and age, I think there are more important things to do besides complain about art pieces.

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