Esther Hwang is as focused as a laser beam.
During our weekly meeting, she was asked to write a "little something" about an incident in which the Parks Department shut down an art exhibit by Brooklyn College students, including Zine featured artist John Avelluto, due to its content. Instead, Esther went inward; she mined the caverns of her soul and discovered a gem that shimmered as brightly--that radiated as intently--as the aforemention beam of light. We are proud to present the illumination of that rare and precious stone here on The Boylan Blog. With no further adieu, we present Esther Hwang's "Fellow Artists!"
by Esther Hwang
Art communicates. It asks, no, demands us to receive and if we refuse to we are not letting art be art. A writer once said that poetry reinvents language, and I dare to generalize that art reinvents reality, and I don't try to deceive us that art beautifies reality, bearing all of life's cumbersome burdens. In fact, art sometimes even highlights the invisible burdens tucked away in the quiet periphery of our sight. Often, if not for art, they would remain invisible, never beckoning us to stray from the retreat into our coffins of comfort zones. Art is not always palatable. Sometimes, it shocks, it hurts, it annoys, and it offends, but that's okay. After all, truth is not always presented in matching colors. In fact, it seldom is.
Julius Spiegel, Commissioner of the Parks Department, felt that your artwork was not "appropriate for families" because the exhibition featured a penis sculpture, a caged rat and a "sexually charged video." The city wants to further censor any art "that includes material that is religious, political or sexual in nature." Do families not have religious beliefs? Do families not live under a government? Do families not exist because of the penis?
If people live life as social, spiritual, psychological, and sexual creatures, then the art they produce will reflect and recreate these elements. I wonder what we would have lost if censorship prevailed in history, if Macchiavelli didn't write his brilliant political machinations; if Shakespeare didn't explore the human desire of power; if Picasso never painted his unique depiction of prostitutes; if Donatello didn't create the erotic, kinky, and homosexually charged sculpture of David of the Bible (what do you know, it's religious, political, and sexual); if Michaelangelo never sculpted the Pieta, in which the virgin Mary's face looks as though she is having an orgasm; if Bach never composed his tribute to God in his beautiful Mass in b minor; if Allen Ginsberg, a distinguised professor of English at Brooklyn College, never wrote "Howl."
If censorship is the direction in which we're heading, we might as well strip the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and hang empty frames of silence; we might as well rape the halls of Lincoln Center and echo cacophonous symphonies of nothingness. To me, this is as absurd as your artwork being censored. We from the English Major's Counseling Office encourage you to let your art speak even more loudly, to look at Donatello's David and preach on. We realize that art does not mask but reveals. We realize that as human beings, we wake up in the morning and try to identify the phallic symbol in our dreams; we have sex after a candlelit dinner; we have brothers fighting in Iraq; we have fathers who died on 9/11; we have mothers who are worried; we pray.
I close with an invitation to Julius Spiegel, a family man no doubt, to take a good look in the mirror before the next time he hops in the shower and see what greets him hanging (or not hanging) between his legs. Surprise!
"The Virgin Mary"
by Chris Ofili