Peace Begins at Home (exhibition)

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Date: 1991

Region: North America

Subject: Nudity Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Public Art, Photography


Artist: Dr. Robert Tager, Shmuel Thaler, and Catharina Marlowe

Confronting Bodies: County officials

Dates of Action: May 1991

Location: Santa Cruz, California

Description of Artwork: All three removed photographs portrayed female nudity. A picture called Rejoice by Dr. Robert Tager showed the upper half of a nude woman wearing a painted Balinese mask. Also removed were Shmuel Thaler's photograph of a woman experiencing labor pains and Catharina Marlowe's photograph of a nude couple on a beach.

The Incident: Peace Begins at Homewas displayed at the Santa Cruz County Government Center. The county's Director of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services, Ben Angrove, ordered the works removed, saying, "a set of standards rests [in a government building] that's different from a gallery or a public place... " County officials cited concerns that children may view the works. lnterestingly, the County Children's Commission issued a letter after reviewing the exhibit saying that "All Commissioners were concerned about the probability that 'children' were 'used' to justify censorship."

Results of Incident: As a result of the Santa Cruz controversy, applications sent to prospective exhibitors now remind artists that their work will be displayed in a public arena, frequented by citizens with diverse opinions. The Santa Cruz County Arts Council also urged the County of Santa Cruz to "strongly express support for freedom of artistic expression... [and] make clear that conformity for its own sake is not encouraged, and that no undue preference will be given to any particular style or school of thought... even if that expression is occasionally controversial and offensive to some members of our community."

Source: People for the American Way