(Where) is the(re) line for in/appropriate artwork for children? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 03-04-2014, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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I should start by saying, I'm not a prude. But that seems irrelevant. However, nudity is not a concern in our house...sexuality is discussed without shame ('where do I come from', how are babies made, we call body parts what they are...so on). We do try to shield them strong images of sex & violence as it might have a negative impact on their development, self esteem, and perceptions of body & sexuality and so on. So we dont really watch gum ads...if you know what i mean...And we shield them from foul language because I just don't need the headache. We (generally) have the mindset that if you old enough to read it you can (but with conversation). I understand their are things that are age inappropriate but not necessarily inappropriate.

Where is the line when it comes to artwork? Is there a line? Does genitalia itself determine where that line it?

The Birth of Venus is considered inappropriate for children by many because Venus is the embodiment of sexuality and desire...but also because she is nude. I don't get it...I don't see anything wrong with it...

Exposure to culture is key...challenging the mind and conceived notions of what something is...the grace of technique, form, color, emotion, and history. But then what?

I have never minded them looking at Moore, Renoir, Cezanne, Durer, Klimt, and even Weston and Mann. You get the idea...

But what about beautiful, grotesque art?

Anna Work is an Italian artist who is photoshopping famous works of art to make them thinner. Personally, I think they all look sick...but it is an interesting commentary. But, as art should, it raised questions...dun dun duuun

Would you let you child look at Mat Brown's All Within the Circle of Willis?
I'm saying...Hadean and cambrian seem okay but what about Triassic or Cretaceous? I would censor some that are overtly sexual...but what about in an art museum?

What is your criteria for censorship?

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#2 of 6 Old 03-04-2014, 01:09 PM
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I think the Birth of Venus is just fine.  It's a beautiful painting, and an interesting social commentary.  On the other hand, I get uncomfy around depictions of the Crucifixion.  Which is not to say that I'm shielding the kids from it, but I want to prepare before opening to that page with my 4 and 6 yo kids. 


We don't do art museums because the kids are bouncy and largely not interested, but I'm not worried taht they would come across something at the MFA that I would find inappropriate.  Then again, if my individual kids freak out for reasons individual to themselves, I'll take them home. 


I don't have a clear answer, but it's a really interesting question.

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#3 of 6 Old 03-04-2014, 03:06 PM
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Good question. I lean away from censorship in a lot of areas, but my 12 yo has become verrrry modest about nudity (everyones') since puberty so I should be thinking more about it for us personally.
That said, we have sculptures of both the Birth of Venus and Leda and the Swan (though this one is a subtle rendition), and a huge coffee table book of Art of the Louvre in our house. None of our kids or their friends have ever said anything about the nudity or even seemed to notice. Except for dd2 trying to latch onto Venus's breast one time. Heck, we have anatomy books that are more explicit.

I'm sure there is a line I would draw-thinking of some "shock value" art I've seen that I wouldn't want to explain to young kids-but it hasn't come up yet.
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#4 of 6 Old 03-04-2014, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you much!

Can you do me huge favor and google 'mat brown all within the circle of Willis' and see if that crosses the bar for you?

This is what is causing the mental schism.

Thanks for the help

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#5 of 6 Old 03-05-2014, 06:16 AM
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When discriminating any art or image, movie, tv show or play that my children might see, I engage it myself first to determine if it lines up with the values I am trying to teach my children (balance, beauty, equality, authenticity, strength).

For me, if something feels chaotic or abusive, I want to shield (to use your language) my children from it at this point. My kids are 12, 10, 8. We have discussed sex and the reproductive system in a physiological scientific way, keeping explicitly erotic images at bay.  Having a 12 year old boy, I am on high alert regarding pornography and anything that objectifies and exploits women (or men, children or animals for that matter).  

Honestly, when googling "Mat Brown all within the circle of Willis" I felt a dis ease with it. I had a mental schism as well. I want my children to experience a broad spectrum of art - absolutely. There is so much art in the world, I want to start them off with an appreciation of peace and beauty first, before moving them into the complexity of sexual chaos.

All that to say, yes I guess that crossed a line for me. I personally would not show it to my children.


To be fair - I am on high alert about a lot of things. So I may not even be the mom to ask about this!! I don't even let my kids watch teen shows (like on disney). Our culture places girls and boys in boxes I am not comfortable with. Girls playing mind games with boys and flirting passively. Yuk. One of my values is to be direct and to show mutual respect and equality, so most of what culture puts out is distasteful to me.

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#6 of 6 Old 03-05-2014, 08:35 AM
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I am not a prude either.  I was bashed on Facebook this week because I use "It's Perfectly Normal" with my children at home (and some people believe that it is pornographic, among other things).  I am ok with nudity in art.  A lot of the nudity in art is quite beautiful.  When at a museum, I don't prevent them from looking at what is interesting to them.  We don't live in a "museum filled" town though so it doesn't happen a whole lot. 


Generally speaking, I don't censure art for my children.  However, I also don't go out of my way to introduce them to stuff that makes me squirm.


 I had to look up the Circle of Willis that you mentioned.  It was a little creepy for me.  If we were at a museum or exhibit and it was there, I wouldn't prevent my kids from seeing it.  I also wouldn't buy tickets to see a showing of it with my children, nor would I get a book of prints to be kept around my home for them to peruse.  


There is one artist (photographer) that I can not remember his name right now-- he has done some shocking stuff that I would prevent my kids from seeing.  His flowers were beautiful, but then he also had a collection that included male genitalia mounted and tied up -- torturous looking to me.  It was disturbing and I would not have my kids see those works even if they just happened to be at the museum we were at.  



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