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CAA News Today

Open Letter to Brooklyn Borough Commissioner

posted by Michael Fahlund — May 15, 2006

CAA has sent a letter protesting the closing of the Brooklyn College MFA exhibition at the Brooklyn War Memorial in New York.

Julius Spiegel
Brooklyn Borough Commissioner
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Litchfield Villa
Prospect Park
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Dear Borough Commissioner Spiegel:

On behalf of the College Art Association (CAA), the largest and most comprehensive professional organization for art historians and visual artists in the United States, I am writing to express concern about the closing of the Brooklyn College students’ annual Master of Fine Arts (MFA) thesis show at the Brooklyn War Memorial on May 4, 2006. I understand that the exhibition was closed after city official found some works of art to be objectionable and not suitable for families.

As an organization that supports artists’ and scholars’ right to free expression and opposes limits on intellectual inquiry, we follow censorship-related complaints from around the country and can attest to the fact that almost any work of art can be construed as being religious, political, or sexual in nature. We have recorded numerous complaints against highly regarded, often classical, works of art that have been couched in just such language. Under this standard, New York City would be deprived of a large number of the public artworks that have contributed to the vibrant culture of the city. Although many of the works included in the MFA show may be seen as challenging or controversial, the public must be given an opportunity to choose whether or not to attend, to view the exhibition unimpeded, and to form its own opinion.

With more than 13,000 members, and with 20 percent of our membership living and working in New York State, the College Art Association promotes the highest levels of creativity, intellectual inquiry, and technical skill in the practice and teaching of the visual arts, as well as the highest standards of scholarship, connoisseurship, and teaching in the history and criticism of art.

Michael Fahlund
Acting Executive Director
College Art Association