Own a piece of YS history! This piece of art “After the Dinner Party” was one of the pieces that sparked the controversy over public art and will be for sale at the Holiday Art Jumble. Proceeds support local artists and the Arts Council Community Gallery (more info here)
Background History: Here’s the scoop-
On March 1st, 2012, the visual part of Women’s Voices Outloud, was hung in the John Bryan Community Gallery located on the second floor hallway. This Annual event has been around for 33 years, 20 years exhibits in the Bryan Center. The show is for women of all ages to present stories, journal entries, poems, songs, dance and visual art to the community.
There was not a lot of work this year, but it covered all ages and many styles, Ceramics by Lisa Wolters, tiny miniature sculptures by Sharon Mohler, a political satire piece by Corrine Bayraktaroglu, a 3D Protest Mannequin called “Hairy Mary” by the Jafagirls, a Mixed Media piece by Patricia Hyde and other paintings, small textile pieces, calligraphy, photographs and drawings. It filled the hallway that goes off the main hallway. We were hoping that some more artists might put something up later on.
In the days that followed a controversy brewed in which 3 works listed below were deemed disturbing by an employee of the village and the Village Manager stating that they bordered on “sexual harassment.” of employees at the Bryant Center.
- Sherraid Scott’s pencil drawing of a nude female model.
- The Jafagirls’ mannequin “Hairy Mary”
- A painting done by Nancy Mellon that was a women’s consciousness raising piece called “After the Dinner Party” that showed the whole internal and external clitoris organ and the whole internal and external organ of the penis dancing together in whimsical, dreamy sort of way.
The ensuing controversy inspired Sharon Mohler, a previous curator of WVOL who had to deal with a similar controversy in 1999, to galvanize support for the integrity of the show and the artists.In a show of support for local artists and freedom of speech Sharon organized other female artists to contribute life studies in all media. They did not fail to disappoint and the halls filled up with ceramic nudes, male and female, a polymer clay sculpture of an nude modeling art class, photographs, sketches and many beautiful paintings- all of nudes. One large painting arrived with the paint still damp. It was an exciting and joyful show.
Over all the years at WVOL other nude paintings and sculptures have been in the visual part of the show.
For the reception another artist in town, Susan Gartner made a tasteful selection of cookies that were bikinied tops and bottoms of the female form. She also added her own collage of drawings that had been given to her by artists when she was a nude model. She wrote a paper that spoke of how wonderful it was for women to be nude models. That it was a great way to learn to love your own body and be content in it’s shape.
During the week that the new art was going up the Interim Town Manager contacted Arts Council repeatedly and told them that YSAC would have to censor any public art for politics and sexuality/nudity if they were going to be managing/using the JBC Gallery or putting up any Public Art in an outdoor venue in Yellow Springs.
Women’s Voices Outloud is not run by the Arts Council. The month long gallery show and the one night performance that make up WVOL have over the years been handled by Volunteer Coordinators, Laurie Dreamspinner, Liz Hale and others. But the Arts Council for 20 years has managed the gallery.
Two of the JBCC secretaries went to the YS News to tell them about the controversy.
Megan Bachman of the YS News wrote an article. She also took pictures of the event. A picture of one of the nude painting was placed on the front page of the Yellow Springs News.
The Village Staff and Town Council were told to not speak to the news. So from the village, the article only included a quote from the YS lawyer. He said “the Village needed to honor the artists First Amendment right to free speech and also to protect its employees from a hostile work environment.”
No one has been allowed to put up a show at the John Bryan Community gallery since the end of March 2012 and a Public Art Policy is still in the planning stage.