Confirmation from Brookfield East

Principal Brett Bowers e-mailed to confirm that a full-frontal nude was displayed in the student art gallery for three weeks. “There is no school policy on nude art work,” he wrote. He also indicated it was in the style of Salvador Dali. Comforting, huh?

I love to push things, if you haven’t noticed. I double dog dare one of you guys to scan a Playboy centerfold, posterize it in Photoshop, and plop it on your locker and call it graphic art. See how long that gets to stay up!

Elmbrook School Board member Tom Gehl reports that he has asked to meet with Elmbrook Superintendent Matt Gibson and East Principal Brett Bowers about the matter.


  1. Did Mr. Bowers discuss what the related assignment was?

  2. No, but I didn’t ask.

  3. That’s a great example, Dan. Interestingly, the work is so absurd that it was first labeled a hoax! Later the artist claims it was not a hoax.

  4. That’s just disgusting.

    Is Dr. Mengele a smear on all physicians? Of course not. We don’t have to accept anything-goes, nor do we have to dispense with civilization because some have run amok.

    Figure studies have been central to the Western art tradition for hundreds, thousands of years. Grumps is very reasonable.

  5. I had 4 years of high school art and was an art minor in college. At the high school level, we did life drawing as well as some muscular/skeletal system drawings in art class. Our models, however, always had their leotards on and our drawings were clothed too. At no time did we draw nudes.

    College was a different story. The models only wore a smile, so that is what I drew.

    What is the difference between my high school “art” classes and college “art” courses? The age of the student. High school students are minors; college students are adults. I wish Elmbrook would remember that.

    It is amazing to me the number of things the world deems inappropriate for those 13 or 18 and under to see or hear in a movie or game (PG-13, R rating), yet those things are allowed at the high school level by the administration. This “art” display just adds another item to my list.

  6. So if it’s so inappropriate maybe we need to get rid of the AP Art History course at East. A lot of the art studied is of nudes including the Willendorf Woman, David (various versions) and plenty of other nude depictions.

    And no one goes in the art gallery anyways, it might as well be a closet. (that’s a joke not a legitimate argument)

  7. Artie O'Clozett says:

    When you say, “no one goes in the art gallery anyways, it might as well be a closet”, you give a whole new meaning to the phrase, “coming out of the closet”. ;o)
    ps. The word is “anyway”. No “S”!

    Does AP indicate the Art History course is college-level? One might surmise parents are aware of what is being studied… presumably not live nudes…?

    Has anyone learned yet what the class level and assignment were for the painting we are discussing?

  8. Wait they studied live nudes? I don’t believe that.

  9. “Presumably NOT live nudes” would mean one is assuming there were no live nudes, Shawn.

    I mean, sheesh, this is high school, right?

  10. I think Cindy’s point from earlier should be explored. Where do we drawn the line between “art” and “pornography” when minors are involved?

  11. Don’t you think there is a lot of middle ground between the two, Libby? I’m not sure I could draw a line.

    As I said elsewhere, I am a prude, but I tend to compartmentalize. Competitive swimmers get to wear speedos; but I don’t want to see them at park.

  12. The Naked And The Nude by Robert Graves

    For me, the naked and the nude
    (By lexicographers construed
    As synonyms that should express
    The same deficiency of dress
    Or shelter) stand as wide apart
    As love from lies, or truth from art.

    Lovers without reproach will gaze
    On bodies naked and ablaze;
    The Hippocratic eye will see
    In nakedness, anatomy;
    And naked shines the Goddess when
    She mounts her lion among men.

    The nude are bold, the nude are sly
    To hold each treasonable eye.
    While draping by a showman’s trick
    Their dishabille in rhetoric,
    They grin a mock-religious grin
    Of scorn at those of naked skin.

    The naked, therefore, who compete
    Against the nude may know defeat;
    Yet when they both together tread
    The briary pastures of the dead,
    By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
    How naked go the sometime nude!

  13. Cheri M. says:

    Yes, Libby, well said. I believe it best if we err on the side of caution. But we do need to draw a clear line.

    Thinking of other recent news from BEHS, consider the preposterousness of “art” used as a possible defense if one were to assert the coach was merely having a very advanced “art” discussion or perhaps tutoring a nude drawing lesson over the internet? Not being an exhibitionist, showing porn, or engaging in child enticement… Just being an “artist”.

    I believe we are already on a slippery slope.

  14. The line is easy for me. I liked where I THOUGHT it was drawn prior to learning of this issue!

    I like that no nudes are allowed on school property. Yes, I signed a separate permission slip to let the youngest go the the Art Museum, and I know what’s at the Art Museum, but I rather liked that there was a barrier to viewing – a second signed permission slip – that was involved. I do feel that nudes popping up in student display areas is a problem. After all, not everyone attending a high school is a mature junior or senior taking AP art courses. Kids are there for games with siblings, etc. In general, a high school art display is NOT a place where a parent’s antennae would go up with “wait possible young child issue!” like you would at the museum.

    In addition, I’m concerned about the nudes being painted as part of the curriculum. In general, a parent should be able to sign off on a student participating in curriculum that allows nude work, but it’s not just the art student that is likely to view the work. Another student, whose parent has not signed off, could easily saunter in for attendance, etc., and be surprised.

    I like limits. KIDS LIKE LIMITS. Why wasn’t there a common sense limit at East?

  15. Just in case anyone didn’t catch it, Cheri is comparing these drawings with Mike Sprinkel’s shenanigans.

    Student-created art is not comparable with photos of nude children. Or showing your genitals on web cam. Sorry Cheri, that’s a little bit of a grasp.

    I fundamentally disagree that having nude drawings in a stuffy art gallery in a high school is going to inspire people to start collecting child pornography or showing their genitals.

    I agree with Kathryn on this one…there is much middle ground. Unfortunately, it’s hard to define what is art and what is not. For a lot of people, art can be pornographic and pornography can be artistic.

    What is appropriate in our schools? I think if it’s not sexually explicit and focuses on the study of human form, not human sexuality, it is fine.

    If it turns out these are depictions that include unnecessary poses etc. then this issue needs to be fleshed out. But I don’t think they are and I would risk my life in betting there were no live models.

  16. Or maybe i’m just not into shelterism for kids.

  17. There is no “common sense limit” because there is no common sense of propriety on this issue (the issue of the one drawing in the gallery.) My antenna wouldn’t go up about small children at the museum either, unless they were likely to be confronted with St. Sebastian or Guernica. (That Yale thing might cause me to rethink that policy.)

    While I disagree with you, Cindy, it isn’t a great big deal to me either. Kinda like protestants and alcohol: some of us drink, but not at the church because others of us don’t drink at all.

  18. Cheri M. says:

    If I understood correctly, the coach was not showing himself, but a photo of himself. Do we know yet whether the student artist was showing a self-portrait? Hence the slippery slope comparison.

  19. I think he web cammed the real mccoy, Cheri.

    Yuck, yuck, yuck. Can we talk about gardening again?

  20. Cheri M. says:

    Gardening – as a society we reap what we sow. Let’s plant good seeds.

  21. You’re a cleaver girl! 😉

  22. Er, clever. This counts me out, doesn’t it?

  23. ‘ Course if you were a cleaver girl, no one would cross you on campouts!

  24. Cheri M. says:

    Yeah, Kathryn, me and the Beav!
    (Beaver Cleaver that is)
    I suppose you meant clever.
    So, back to gardening…