Summer programs held in colleges bring inquisitive, precocious minors into a university setting. But these summer programs for minors are faced with a dilemma: How a university can offer an empowering educational atmosphere versus the responsibility for paternalistic supervision of minors. The friction between these missions have brought certain ad-hoc tweaks not normally seen in a university. Often administered by educators who are not professionally trained to deal with minors, we have seen reputable art colleges making hasty, viewpoint-based decisions on displaying artwork produced by students.
This summer Jessica LeDuc, a student of the Oregon College of Art And Craft (OCAC) was shocked to see her artwork covered by brown paper. The school encourages students to keep their artwork up over the summer so prospective students can see it when they take a tour. LeDuc’s artwork is a series of photographs with a fully-clothed blow-up doll coupled with text of common advice given to women about rape. The college put brown paper over the artwork without notifying the artist, as they felt it was inappropriate for the children attending summer camp. LeDuc spoke with her college and had the brown paper removed shortly after she found out, which is perhaps the best outcome for any situation of censorship.
Maris Bock is a 16 year old artist who attended the pre-College program at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the most well-known art schools in the country. At the end of their program, there is a weekend-long exhibit of student art work, selected by the students and their supervising teachers. Bock made an oil painting of a figure licking an ice cream cone. In an inspired painterly gesture, she abstracted the ice cream cone into a dripping rainbow. But the administrators of RISD Pre-College felt the work was pornographic. Wanting to protect Bock from criticism, they refused to exhibit the painting.
After hearing about this incident, NCAC got in touch with the RISD Pre-College program, and the director said that they will look into creating new selection guidelines for the end of program exhibit. We provided some suggestions for when they do draft such a policy.