Momart (a series of drawings)

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Date: 1991

Region: North America

Subject: Nudity

Medium: Painting


Artist: Teresa and Jean Campbell

Confronting Bodies: Library Officials, Birmingham Public Library

Dates of Action: 1991

Location: Birmingham Public Library, Alabama

Description of Artwork: Six drawings collectively titled Momart were removed from an exhibit at the Birmingham Public Library by library officials who deemed the works' portrayal of nudity "not appropriate." The drawings by Teresa and Jean Campbell, show a mother breast-feeding her baby and are described by the artists as a celebration of motherhood.

The Incident: They were shown at the exhibit's invitation-only opening and then removed on the orders of library officials who said that the image of breast-feeding was "not appropriate for this public library setting" and expressed concern that the works might be vandalized. News reports of the incident touched off a large number of phone calls to the library demanding that the challenged pieces be returned, prompting library officials to reverse the ban. One administrator said "if the public wants to view them and there's that much interest, we ought to let them view them."

Results of Incident: Work removed, then restored after public outcry.

Source: People for the American Way