Sunday, May 6, 2012

How Kids React to Nudity in Art

Once a month, my studio is open to the public during Friday Night Live - a street-wide event on Main Street in Woodstock, GA.  I've had the chance to witness the same scene dozens of times:  a family will walk into the studio, the parents and children will walk up to the wall of paintings, the parents will see a nude in one of the paintings, then immediately steer their child away from the wall and exit as quickly as possible.

My kids have grown up with nudes in art all over the house and in my studio.  I have never felt odd about them seeing my work.  My nudes are not sexual in any way.  Ari can even be a pretty good critic when she looks at my work!

Back in March I hosted ten of Ari's closest friends for an Art Party at my studio.  There were flowers hanging from the ceiling, fun pink table covers, lots of art projects.  And in the corner was my friend Matt Lewis' amazing nude sculpture that he was close to finishing.

One of the kids went right up to the sculpture of the nude woman, looked at it up and down, squinted and peered with great interest, and said

"Is that play doh?"

(My Jack leading a round of Simon Says at the party)

Now I totally agree that some nudes are NOT appropriate for children (even for many adults!) But there are some beautiful studies, paintings, drawings and sculptures that can teach children the beauty of the figure, with a great deal of respect that Artists bring to the subject.

When your child goes to a museum, gallery, or flips through an Art book, how do YOU explain nudity in Art?


Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

I grew up with my grandmother's nude paintings in my house and never thought twice about it. I now paint nudes and have several in my home full of children. It was obvious that it was not meant to be titillating and intention is key. I recently saw an abstract nude on Pinterest by Kate Stevenson and a comment below was "finally a family friendly nude" I found that very annoying.

Aaron Walton said...

Yeah, the shame reaction to nudity in art (or any tasteful display of nudity) that most people have is a completely LEARNED response.

Michelle Arnold Paine said...

I am glad you posted about this -- someone recently told me about her artist friend who had taken down all of her nude drawings in her house because her children's friends' parents were horrified. I thought that was very sad. God created our bodies and every single one is beautiful. We are the ones who distort the meanings/ perceptions.

Cathy Rodgers said...

As with many other situations that occur, while raising children, if mom & dad don't make a big deal out of the naked human body - then kids don't make a big deal out of it. There's a big difference between your art and pornography - and any reasonable person should be able to see that.

Personally, I LOVE your art and am both awed and inspired by your talent on a regular basis!

Duncan Heenan said...

Why should the naked body be treated any differently fro any other art subject? I just don't get it. Clearly it only bothers children if you tell the it should.
My children were brought up with nudity in the family and naturist societyas standard, and I'm pleased to say they grew up completely normal, and my grandchildren are now following in their footsteps.