The inclusion of a painting of a nude woman in the current exhibit in
Gallery I has triggered reactions from a variety of people in my division,
which fall into two categories:
(1) Portraits of nude women encourage the view of a woman as a sexual
object rather than as an equal and a scientist.
(2) Given the educational role NCAR plays, with frequent visits by
school-age children, the display of nudity in artwork is inappropriate.
A previous Delphi question was similar to (1); in response it was stated
that the display was considered to meet the legal standard. Is meeting
legal standards enough? Or should this issue be addressed with
consideration to the feelings of the (minority of) scientists who are
women? Has the issue of children/the public and nudity in artwork ever been
Answered on July 10, 2000
Your questions and the issues they raise about what is appropriate to
include in public art exhibits, including those at NCAR, are sensitive and
complicated and ones upon which reasonable people may disagree. As with all
exhibits, a sample of the art work was reviewed in the original judging.
Upon the mounting of the full display, the NCAR Art Committee considered
the nude torso of a woman, which was only one of many paintings in the
exhibit, to be well within the community standards of art suitable for
viewing by people of all ages and hence appropriate for display at NCAR.
The Art Committee is made up of your peers, and they make every attempt to
select artwork that is both interesting and diversified in order to give
staff and visitors a variety of exhibits to enjoy. Of course, meeting the
legal standard is important, but equally so, the committee is extremely
sensitive to the feelings of not only women scientists but also all staff
members regardless of race, gender, or other factors.
Similar issues have been raised in previous Delphi questions. As stated in
an earlier response (published in Staff Notes Monthly in 1992), "Judgments
about the offensiveness of artwork and other material are highly personal
and individual. These personal judgments are the products of each of our
individual value systems and our religious and moral beliefs. As can be
seen by observing attempts to establish community obscenity standards, it
is impossible to define a single standard that will satisfy all views."
The members of the NCAR Art Committee strive to be fair and considerate to
everyone in our diverse work environment. We encourage staff to share
opinions and differences with the committee. For those who would like to
become more involved in the selection process, we encourage you to submit
your names (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) to serve on the committee.
-Nita Razo, Coordinator, NCAR Art Exhibit Program