Get this: In Florida, where nude beaches are a dime a dozen, a sculpture of a naked family outside a shopping center west of Delray Beach is causing quite a stir… especially among parents with young children.
The brouhaha, which was started by mom of a preschooler, has escalated into a full-blown community-dividing controversy. According to reports, the mom was offended by the bronze statutes, which depict a family in the buff (though the statues’ genitalia is by no means the most striking aspect of the piece).
The mom says she was forced to shield her preschooler’s eyes while walking into the mall, and once inside she began tweeting her discontent with the works of art to other parents. Next thing you know the PTA president of an elementary school located near the bronze nudes started an email campaign asking parents to complain to city officials and the mall owner in hopes of having the sculpture removed.
For the record, the nude sculpture was created by renowned artist Itzik Asher and titled “Journey to the New.” It is supposed to represent the journey of Russian and Ethiopian Jews from their homes to Israel, and was never meant to incite anger amongst community members. What’s more, the statue was previously displayed at other locations in the state where it didn’t yield a single complaint.
Which is not to say that the artist’s work hasn’t caused controversy in the past. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Asher’s sculptures have drawn criticism before, namely in 1995 when the Boca Raton City Council made him cover the private parts of several of his sculptures with cardboard fig leaves. The leaves were later removed and the sculpture shown in its entirety.
Still, some in the community believe the parents outrage is uncalled for. Meanwhile, a few local artists issued an open letter to the miffed parents suggesting that they use the subtly nude sculpture as a vehicle to discuss art history, interpretation and appreciation to their children.
Unfortunately, at least one parent is not going that route.
Jeffrey Cohen told local news reporters: “My daughter has been joking about it. She shouldn’t be talking to me about this.”
Apparently, parents like Cohen would prefer to keep their kids in the dark about human body parts.
Would you be offended if nude figures were displayed in a public area you frequent with your preschooler?