Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hot for teacher

Tamara Hoover, an art teacher at Austin High School in Texas, is fighting her dismissal after topless photos taken by her girlfriend were found in a Flickr account. School officials want to revoke her teaching certification, which would prevent her from teaching anywhere in Texas. Hoover is unrepentant, saying (rightfully so) that "I'm an artist and I'm going to participate in the arts". Whatever you think of the wisdom of posting nude pics of yourself on the internet or whether or not such boudoir photography is art, the fact is the human form is a pivotal artistic subject. Sure, nude photography is probably best kept out of a high school classroom, but you can't expect an artist to eschew that subject matter in the rest of her work and life. No doubt some (most?) parents and administrators would prefer a teacher limit themselves to drawing cute kittens. Take a look at the appalling "quick poll" accompanying the CNN news story on Hoover: "Can nude photos be art?" The fact that this is even a matter for debate shows that we have a long way to go before our culture grows up.

Such controversies usually have their root in something petty. Here it started with a dispute over ceramics equipment with another art teacher. Students told this rival teacher about the pictures and she brought them to the attention of administrators. Apparently everyone's time and money is being wasted because some people can't figure out how to share a kiln. Instead of using some dirt to screw over another teacher, this art teacher should have thought about who is going to stand up for her when someone finds some of her work objectionable.

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