There’s nothing so fertile as the imagination of high school boys in the presence of something, anything, alluding to sex.
Or not sex. Say, for example, a sculpture of ambiguous subject matter.
On the lawn of Wasilla High School in Alaska (Sarah Palin’s hometown), a 12½ foot sculpture has become the butt—I mean, the vagina—of the students’ jokes. The sculpture, called Warrior Within, is difficult to ignore. In fact, it’s causing quite a stir. The focal point, made up of two carved shields, one of bronze, the other aluminum, are enveloped by concrete feathers.
The school district approved the sculpture before it was installed. But soon it captured the attention of the high school’s adolescent, randy, students. Bored with the suggestive scribbling on bathroom stalls and picnic tables, they turned their not-so-latent lust toward the sculpture. Jokes were made, a work of art was demeaned. The embarrassed administration covered up the sculpture.
The official excuse was to protect the $100,000 sculpture from vandalism.
But the damage was done. And, boys, being boys, and probably a few girls being girls, and, cellphones in hand, hundreds of Facebook and Twitter pages were lit up with images of the 12 foot vagina.
To be fair, and to hear the other side of the story, the artists claim that the sculpture was never intended to provoke bathroom humor. Instead, they describe the sculpture this way:
Emerging from the powerful stone form are two warrior shields encircled by glowing feathers. The bronze shield has a hand impression showing “good deeds.” The aluminum shield has a flame symbol representing the “spark of inspiration.” The stone form represents the strong material from which a warrior is made.
Yeah, right. Looks like a vagina to me. And the minute you see Elvis’s face in your toast or Daffy Duck in your spackled ceiling, that’s all you can see, no matter what your friends tell you.
But isn’t art, especially abstract art, supposed to evoke something in the eyes of the viewer? And just because the images evoked don’t match what the artist intended, does that mean the art is a failure? Thoughtful questions. I don’t have the answer. But my opinion is that once you’ve finished painting or carving something into “art” and place it in front of the public, all bets are off. It will be what it will be.
The school’s principal is demanding maturity from the students and has invited the artists to deliver a lecture on the meaning of their art. The principal is a dreamer. These artists are brave, brave souls. There’s no way I’d subject myself to the snickering and eye rolling of adolescent youth. I don’t care how much I believe in my artistic voice. Facing a room full of unruly, sexually inflamed children is as appealing as appearing in front of a firing squad. I think I’d take the bullets any day.
Let’s do a poll!