War Related Art Protested
(Intel source: Best of the Web) Here's a news item that surprises me a little, but probably shouldn't. Artist Michael Fay displayed a collection of his paintings inspired by the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and several protesters turned out to complain that the display was not fair because it failed to show the other point of view. So far this sounds like a normal case of anti-art conservatives opposed to some over-the-top, America-hating display of disemboweled dolls surrounding the artist covered in maraschino cherrries. This is not the case. From this article in the Bangor Daily News, we learn that the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, is hosting the works of Marine Sergeant Michael Fay depicting life in the combat zones in the Global War on Terror. So what happened next? Here's an excerpt:
"About a half-dozen artists carried signs and stood vigil outside the Farnsworth as the show "Fire and Ice: Marine Corps Combat Art from Afghanistan and Iraq" was previewed for museum members. Fay's paintings show soldiers carrying out their daily duties while serving on hostile ground.
"Fay's paintings and drawings do not depict war, but there is no doubt as to their nature. They are set in a combat zone and include images of tanks, bombs, planes, ambulances and rifle-carrying soldiers.
"The protesters objected to the show's content and what they claimed was the museum's "implicit support of war." They said a more balanced show would include images of civilian deaths and mass destruction. To represent one facet of military life in combat zones without placing it in the context of the true costs of war displayed a lack of sensitivity, they said.
"We are fighting an illegal and immoral war," Suzanne Hedrick, 73, of Nobleboro told Fay. "Without another viewpoint, without the faces of the victims and the ruining of the country, I'm deeply concerned."
I fully support the artists' right to protest against an unbalanced portrayal of a controversial subject; so does Sgt. Fay. Now, imagine the shoe was on the other foot. Suppose there were an exhibit featuring only scenes showing the bruality of war. Do you honestly think these same artists concerned about showing a balanced image would be out protesting? I can't say with 100% certainty that they wouldn't, but my guess would probably be: No. So how is the art-blogging community reacting? Mark Vallen, from Art For A Change, has this to say:
"Museum director Christopher Crossman compared Fay’s work to that of Winslow Homer when he covered the Civil War for Harper’s Weekly. But the war to restore the Union and end slavery is a far cry from what many see in Iraq -a war of choice, not a war of necessity. Director Crossman said that Fay’s artworks put “a human face to war” -but what tenderness is there in war? What soul is not malformed and made ugly by war? General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” During WWII the US government formed the War Department Art Advisory committee that eventually sent forty two soldier artists into combat zones to sketch the fight against fascism and Japanese imperialism. The artists were free to draw and paint all subjects -from the dead and dying to bombed homes and prisoners of war. That all seems far a field from what is now on display at the Farnsworth."
Hmmm... not much discussion on the possible hypocrisy of the artist-protesters. We'll see how the discussion evolves...
Staying at PD...