Feedback from the issue of Thursday, August 28, 2008

HEAVENS TO BETSY

It ain't porn: Betsy Schneider is a distinguished faculty member of the Herberger College of the Arts at Arizona State University. She has been acclaimed around the world for the beauty and power of her images. As is true of all art, Betsy's work evokes powerful responses in her viewers ("The Daily Show," Amy Silverman, August 14).

From the day they were born, Betsy Schneider has been documenting the growth of her children through a series of photographs. Through a mother's eyes, images of her children, naked and happy, are beautiful.

Not surprisingly, Betsy has encountered opposition to the public display of these photographs. This can be uncomfortable and sensitive territory, and Betsy has accepted her responsibility to be a thoughtful participant in the ongoing conversation about the depiction of children in the media.

We recognize the right of viewers to dislike Betsy's work and to find it distasteful. At the same time, we completely disagree with the characterization of her work as pornographic and defend her right to have this work displayed and seen by the public.
Kwang-Wu Kim, dean, ASU Herberger College of Arts

A time to honor boundaries: Your article on Betsy Schneider was comprehensive, and you got a few telling answers about her project from its participants.

I'm grateful that when I was working on my "nursing mom" photo project at ASU, my instructor didn't recommend talking with Mrs. Schneider. Her work oversteps all boundaries of parenting. Her misuse of family trust will inevitably be bitter in the end, as her children grow.

Parents of ASU photography students could have serious contentions of her influence on their young adults' work.

The reasons Mrs. Schneider questions herself [resemble], "Should I enforce the helmet rule when biking?" Or when parents of special children ask themselves if they are being a great advocate for their children.

She should start listening to the truthful answers in her heart, the doubt that is creeping in. Maternal and paternal instinct. Both parents seem to be lacking it, and more than four people will end up hurt.

There is a time to push the boundaries, and a time to honor them. It's what keeps us civilized, rational, and responsible.
Eden Kenyon, Surprise

The loudmouths just don't matter: Of course, Betsy Schneider's work isn't morally offensive. Her pictures are beautiful. The small number of loudmouth people who are complaining may not consider what she does art, but that doesn't matter.

The general public found Pablo Picasso's paintings morally offensive. How many times has society tried to ban art it finds offensive — whether it be photographs, paintings, literature, or movies. The fact that some pervert might look at something has no bearing on whether it's art. Some degenerate could go down to the County Museum of Art and get off on many of the paintings showing cherubic full-frontal nudity by one of the great masters.

Also, no legal action against Schneider would ever work. Can you say waste of taxpayer money?! The law says the images have to be done or reproduced for the express purpose of sexual gratification. This is hardly the case on any front.

As the New Times story notes, artists have been displaying naked pictures of their own children for decades — which is my only criticism of Betsy Schneider. What she's doing is nothing new. You can buy art books showing far more graphic photos of nude children at local bookstores.
Peggy Spencer, Phoenix

Sun has a point: While I agree with the writer that the Sun newspaper [in Great Britain] is a nasty little tabloid, it still made a very good point.
Ed Millar, Phoenix

Artists aren't responsible for others' reactions: As a creative person, I believe that my motive is all-important. This artist's motive is to create art. A pornographer's motive is to create prurient interest. We as artists are not responsible for other people's reactions.
Mary K. Croft, via the Internet

Huh?: These are photographs of a wonderful family. We can see this in the eyes of the children. They are a trace of the miracle of God's own sculpture of us.
Raymond Dempsey, via the Internet

Nude kids? That's so 1988: This has to be one of the most offensive shows I've seen. While the [issue of] child porn is offensive in and of itself, the lack of creativity from a tenured professor is even more so.

This is 2008, not 1988. Shock art is so passé. Meaning cannot be removed from the context in which it is presented. That includes the perspective of the viewer. What were you thinking?
Name withheld

Shame on you, New Times: You should've never published these photos. This woman is sick. Children are beautiful and innocent. She is taking that innocence and taking advantage of it. It is disgusting.

These kids had no say in their images being published for all the world to see. Sick. New Times, I have been a longtime reader and supporter, but this was horrible judgment on your part.
Name withheld

A memo to the stupid people: Dear stupid people: Nudity is not pornography. Her pictures are not pornographic. Just because you find a sexual element in them doesn't mean they're sexual. You're the perverted ones for finding sex where there is none.

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