The National Coalition Against Censorship is concerned that the City of Encinitas’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts has removed several works from an exhibition because of apparent discomfort with some of the content of those works. 

The censored artist, Elena Karavodin, was selected by the city to produce a number of works for an exhibition in one of the hallways of a city building. Shortly after the works were placed on public display, the city demanded that Ms. Karavodin remove several of the works, on the grounds that some public officials viewed them as “inappropriate” for children. The specific elements that were subjectively deemed “inappropriate” included, among other things, depictions of guns, depictions of smoking, the depiction of a woman in a low-cut dress, and the depiction of a woman in a bikini under which the outline of a nipple could be discerned.

Asking for the removal of Ms. Karavodin’s work raises serious First Amendment concerns. Our courts have time and again reaffirmed that the First Amendment prohibits public officials from censoring art they find offensive or provocative.

NCAC is asking the city to develop guidelines governing the display of artwork in government spaces, and that those guidelines will recognize the freedom of artists to express diverse views and affirm the rights of people in the community to see a wide range of artwork.

Read the full letter to the city below. Click here for a full-screen view.