Freedom of Expression or Limited Freedom?

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My opinion on art censorship and freedom of speech.

Submitted: November 27, 2012

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Submitted: November 27, 2012




Christa Stoutenger

Essentials of Drawing

Assignment #1

Freedom of Expression or Limited Freedom

Ever since artists began expressing themselves through their work, there has been

criticism and conflict with what they make. Not all artists will experience many complaints about

their subject material, but it’s not a good feeling when someone finds what you have created

offensive or wrong. After reading “Crossing the Line in China” by ArtNews, May 2011, I

couldn’t begin understanding the struggle Chinese modern artist Ai Weiwei experienced. He

dared to protest against the Communist government with his art and had his studio torn

down, all of his meetings and gallery showings cancelled, he was beaten, artwork stolen, sold

and depreciated, put under house arrest and arrested.

What happened to Ai Weiwei seems hard to believe because it’s not a talked about topic

in the US. American artists do face censorship though. When I was in high school I got

questioned about my artwork by teachers because it appeared as if my character was naked. I

always started drawing the body before the clothing,  but I didn’t add anatomical details that

were inappropriate for school. I never had any other complaints about my work, though. My art

teachers were accepting of what I wanted to draw and never told me I couldn’t do something.

I’m glad I have the freedom I do with my art, I would be horrified at the thought of having my

art stolen and depreciated or being arrested for its content. I can’t imagine not being able to

express myself however I want with my work.

I most likely will never draw something so controversial it will be censored, because I’m

not interested in drawing something to do with politics or anything that would cause my work to

be offensive. We supposedly have “Freedom of Speech” in America, but that’s not true. If art

can be censored, and anything else that is in the public eye, then we obviously don’t have all the

freedom. Hopefully our government will never reach the point when it becomes communist but

It’s not hard for me to imagine since we already have so much taken away from us. I think art

censorship is understandable, because children may see it and parents don’t want their kids

seeing nudity or offensive material. The problem with that is, art is supposed to be about freedom

of expression and when an artist decides to show their controversial piece it’s because they are

trying to send a message, like Ai Weiwei did. If all controversial art was censored, who would

see it? There has to be controversy in the world if anything is going to change.

Censoring art is like book burning in a way, because people can’t see the meaning in it

that might change their life. Censoring art is halting progress. In European countries, nudity is

accepted and children aren’t shielded from seeing the natural, human body. I think this is a good

thing because children should know what their bodies will look like and not be afraid of them. I

think the same way about alcohol. If children in America were exposed to it at a younger age

they would learn how to control themselves and not become alcoholics. It’s difficult to believe

that this would ever happen in America, because people in America are too opinionated and

sensitive about topics like this. If my child saw a nude piece of art and instead of giggling at it

appreciated and accepted it as a piece of art, I would have no problem with that.

The main reason why people in America aren’t educated enough to understand the

opposing views of other countries that live differently is because they are stubborn and censor

educational things like art, movies and books. Religion oftentimes causes these problems.

Existentialist Philosopher Georg Hegel once said:

 “If we are in a general way permitted to regard human activity in the realm of the beautiful as a liberation of the soul, as a release from constraint and restriction, in short to consider that art does actually alleviate the most overpowering and tragic catastrophes by means of the creations it offers to our contemplation and enjoyment, it is the art of music which conducts us to the final summit of that ascent to freedom.”

? Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, On the Arts: Selections from G.W.F. Hegel's Aesthetics, or the Philosophy of Fine Art

What he means by this is the only way one can see a glimpse of what it’s like to escape

this irrational world is to practice art, music or literature. I agree with what he says, because

when I do any of these things I forget about all of my problems. I think being creative is a good

thing, and it is disappointing that artists and writers are a rare type. A lot of Americans that I

know are afraid to be creative and don’t even try. This explains why they don’t understand art

and literature. Maybe someday we really will be free to express ourselves and not be burdened

by everyone having the same opinion on what is right or wrong, or only having two opinions

butting heads. If people could accept what comes naturally to them and is healthy, like nudity,

violence, drug use (not abuse) and modest sexuality being shown to the public eye without an

uproar, the world would be much more peaceful.



© Copyright 2019 Chrysta. All rights reserved.

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