Controversial art seems to be a touchy subject in a school curriculum, but its importance should not be tossed aside. It is important that children of an older age learn about their rights of freedom of expression. The National Art Education Association discourages the use of censorship, and stated n the final paragraph of the NAEA statement that “the art educator should impress upon students the vital importance of freedom of expression as a basic premise in a free democratic society and urged students to guard against any efforts to limit or curtail that freedom” (www.culturework.com). Teaching children to create works of art as part of their emotional and conceptual growth requires a curriculum of openness, honesty, and clarity, as well as a setting where children can learn about and discuss controversial ideas and artworks. “Censoring works of art will not make challenging images go away. Whitewashing the art education curriculum will not make controversial ideas go away” (Diane Gregory, Censorship in the Art Classroom, 1996).
Many controversial ideas and artworks may seem to be risqué at the time they were created, but are now very important works in art history. One painting by John Singer Sargent, titled
A teacher must be sure not to sway the student towards one opinion or another, but let them decide for themselves. Although the painting was simply titled "shipwreck", all of the visitors knew its real subject. For these reasons, "Olympia" had to be moved near the salons high ceiling for its own protection. Olympia was a French prostitute, and the reason for the outcry was because she was painted just as she was. After the uproar in France, the "Raft of the Medusa" was seen for its artistic integrity rather than political relevance, and seems necessary to me to keep the government in line and also to make a landmark in history. Today, it is recognized as a groundbreaking masterpiece, and you can find it in the world"tms most renowned art museums, the Louvre (Gardner"tms Art Through The Ages, Eleventh Edition). The artwork itself is a stunning and relevant piece of artwork. People years later can look back and learn about a specific event, and the pain and anguish that should not be forgotten. Controversial issues do not only include nudity and sexual content, but also political and religious issues. The portrait remained in his studio for many years, but is now featured in the metropolitan museum in New York (www. "It is easy to grasp the dollar value of art, but we also need to understand the value of artistic freedom" (Jill Singer, Herald Sun, 9-10-1997). Freedom of expression is a right that the National Art Education Association supports, and so do I. Children can become aware that artwork can document events that they feel passionate about one way or another. It is obvious that the content of this painting is not appropriate for young children.