Don’t tell me I can’t make today day #2 of my Censorship series.
The recent events regarding the anti-muslim film, the riots in the middle east, and our American conflict between first amendment principles, common sense and common decency have got me thinking, How and why do we censor ourselves? The reason I ask is that self-censorship really is the the art of exercising real discretion in life and it is quite important to becoming a mature adult.
Some live in a rule bound society where they have very little freedom of expression. As a result they don’t have much reason to learn self-censorship and self-discretion. When those rules are changed or abandoned, or they move to another land with less rules, it can be very hard for the person to stay within any bounds, since none of the restrictions they had before were necessarily theirs. They were put on from the outside. I am not saying everyone in a rule bound society goes berzerk with freedom when the rules are lifted, but there can be that danger.
Last night I did something I haven’t done in many, many years. I went to an open figure drawing session. What that means is you aren’t in a class being instructed, you are just being given access to a studio and a model in a group setting so you can draw as you please. I don’t think I have gone to an actual figure drawing session since before I moved to Tulsa in 1994. I have drawn from the figure here and there, but not in a group studio setting. It was great fun and very energizing and challenging for me. It engaged me in a very rigorous and serious period of time of seeing, evaluating, drawing and creating.
I decided since I was thinking a lot about censorship yesterday that I would do something different in my drawings. I decided I would censor myself and see what I could come up with. There were 2 twenty minute poses where I was able to arrange myself so that there were objects in between the model and me. I worked it out so I could see that she was nude but that she was also obscured in the areas most people see as most private. Then I started drawing. What I love about those sorts of challenges I give myself is that I almost always end up with something more original, unexpected and visually compelling that if I had not given myself the challenge.
These were drawn at Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK
It was an added bonus that I learned after the class that the model was a friend of 2 of my daughters from their time in Tulsa. We had a good conversation in particular about one of them. I was very happy I went for the drawing and the new insight she gave about my daughter.
What do you think of these drawings and what are your thoughts on censorship in general?
Drawings and commentary by Marty Coleman
Quote by Henry Steele Commager, 1902-1998, American historian