By Shiva Peri
How has the department dealt with censorship?
In the past, we have had issues with people who have come to the show and seen work that they felt was inflammatory to their beliefs. On some occasions, we’ve had to take the work down and on some occasions we’ve been allowed to keep the work up. It’s always an issue that we have to deal with. We are in the process right now of writing a new [set of guidelines] that talks more about … [students’] … freedom of speech, freedom to create their work.
How has censorship affected the art students produce?
Especially in AP, the students are not censored at all. They are allowed to produce any work that they want -- even pieces that some others may view as inflammatory. … They’re allowed to [portray] nudes, they’re allowed to [portray] violence … [But] our policy states that anyone in the art department is not allowed to do artwork that promotes violence, nudity, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. Right now we’re dealing with the Confederate flag … The issue comes into play when it comes time to display that work. We often have many discussions with administration [about the art and the artist’s statement]. If [students] have a clear, concise statement based on what they were trying to say and things are not taken out of context, we have found that [the artist statement] eliminates a lot of the [potential] uproar.
How does censorship affect how professional students can be as artists?
We are a public school and we have guidelines under the law to follow. Whereas, museums and such are privately owned … This is a public school with taxpayers … If a student comes to us with a subject matter that we feel is inflammatory, we will often ask them, “What is it you are really trying to say? Why is it you are really trying to say that? Is it really important?” … We make sure, before we put a piece up, that there have been many layers of discussion as to whether or not that piece being created is really necessary or just for shock value. Ultimately, a shock-value piece is going to hurt many of the other [students’ artwork].