Chris Andrews is a graduating MFA in photography. His thesis exhibition, entitled Blood and Glitter, was recently partially censored at the Snite Museum. Chuck Loving, the director of the Snite Museum took issue with the male nudity in the exhibition shortly before it was to be hung, even though Andrews had been working on these pieces for three years and the entire art faculty had seen his work and did not take exception. The following is his rendition of events as they unfolded and we'd love to know what you think. Some have said that male nudity is socially unacceptable and that his work would never be shown in a gallery, others quite disagree. The homosexual themes in his work did not draw the censorship, but even a piece that was a photograph of a representation of male genitalia was removed from his show at the Snite. In all, 6 pieces were taken out, but he was allowed to exhibit the rest of his work and while it was still profound, the entirety of his message was never made clear. You can view his work at http://christos-andres.com/home.html and please, let us know your opinions because we like discussing things like these and we love knowing you guys are out there!
The history of events as told by Chris:
During the Fall MFA reviews (early Dec 2009) the Snite Museum sent a representative to see my work and to ask questions about its installation for the MFA/BFA exhibition opening March 28th. The representative did not express any concerns about the nature of my work or mention issues with the full frontal male nudity seen at the time.
I continued to create my work towards completing my thesis show, the culmination of three years of work.
On March 10, 2010 (Spring Break) I was summoned to meet with my thesis committee comprised of one endowed tenured faculty member, one tenured faculty, and one junior faculty member. I was told that the "Snite museum" had issues with my work after seeing the submitted installation proposal given to the museum on March 7th consisting of 22 large scale color photographs. My committee was asked by the Chair of the Art department to recommend images be removed from my show. The images selected were the images with male nudity,6 total.
The art work was due at the Snite Museum on March 15. Having produced and finished the work and having 5 days before the work was due, I was completely restricted from creating alternative pieces. I was asked to submit thumbnails of the 6 images to Chuck Loving. I was told that the committee was asked to put in writing what images they had suggested be removed for the show.
After meeting with my committee I asked to meet with the Chair of the art department. I was unsatisfied with my committee's lack of information as to who was making the decision of the censorship and the lack of explanation for the decision. I was told by the chair that Snite museum director, Chuck Loving, answers
the provost and it was most likely the provost who had issue.
I then asked to meet with Chuck Loving on Monday March 15th, He informed me that he had concerns about my images and that he informed provost member John Pope Davis and that the provost would gather officers to discuss the controversy.
The following day I meet again with my committee and explained what i learned. They were very troubled to learn that the censorship had gone to the provost.
I expressed to my committee that they should use their words carefully when writing their statement for it would appear that they endorse censorship of my work. I also expressed that I believed that the provost was placing the difficult burden onto them, and I questioned why the provost did not submit anything in writing themselves.
On Monday March 22nd I meet with the Dean of Arts and Letters, John McGreevy. McGreevy told me that he and Chuck Loving would nor allow me to exhibit those six images in the my thesis show. His explanation was the he and Chuck Loving found the images unstable for the audience of the Snite museum.
I offered a reluctant option to conceal the genitals of the male figures, he said, "That is not an attractive option for us".
My show was installed with out the six images. The images of figures in Blackface and female nudity remained unquestioned in their controversy.
On Thursday March 26th I meet with the former Dean of Arts and Letters, after an engaging discussion of my situation is was uncovered that the situation was not handled properly according to the "Common Proposal" statement issued by President Jenkins. The statement explains that the university encourages controversial issues and events and that an open discussion should, indeed must, be had. In my case with my work this open discussion did not occur and I was allowed no opportunity to plead my case or defend my work that deals specifically with queer visibility, heterosexism, gender identity, and gay dignity.
Knowing the controversial issues protocol was not followed, I wrote a letter of appeal to plead my case and offer solutions in the installation that would include the images that were censored. Below is text of the letter.
March 28th the show opened without the 6 images. I was waiting for McGreevy's response to the letter.
On April 20 I meet with McGreevy and Chuck Loving. They viewed in-person two of the six images in secluded room and discussed with me my appeal. I was told that in 24 hours they would make the final decision. Prior to this meeting, the Core Counsel put out a call for art in conjunction with Stand Against Hate Week. I submitted the 6 images. The Core Counsel debated including my work the "CoMo" show and untimely refused it.
On April 27th, Chuck Loving set me an email informing me that the images would not be included back into my thesis show.
My artwork, include the 6 images, can been seen on my website at www.christos-andres.com.