Delphi Questions: Nude artwork
Editor's Note: Questions about the Mesa Lab artwork exhibits
have arisen three times in the past: 1976 (one question) and 1992
(two questions). Both the current questioner and the respondent
received copies of these Delphi Q&A.
Members of the NCAR Art Jury
Internal: Dianne Bernier (GST), Bob Harriss (ESIG), Regina
Hogan (F&A), Doug Nychka (CGD), Bonnie Slagel (COMET)
External: Carlye Calvin, McArthur Johnson, Ernest Porps,
Question #454 (received 23 June):
The inclusion of a painting of a nude woman in the current exhibit
in Gallery I has triggered reactions from a variety of people in
my division, which fall into two categories:
(1) Portraits of nude women encourage the view of a woman as a
sexual object rather than as an equal and a scientist.
(2) Given the educational role NCAR plays, with frequent visits by
school-age children, the display of nudity in artwork is
A previous Delphi question was similar to (1); in response it was
stated that the display was considered to meet the legal standard.
Is meeting legal standards enough? Or should this issue be
addressed with consideration to the feelings of the (minority of)
scientists who are women? Has the issue of children/the public and
nudity in artwork ever been addressed?
Response (10 July):
Your questions and the issues they raise about what is appropriate
to include in public art exhibits, including those at NCAR, are
sensitive and complicated and ones upon which reasonable people
may disagree. As with all exhibits, a sample of the art work was
reviewed in the original judging. Upon the mounting of the full
display, the NCAR Art Committee considered the nude torso of a
woman, which was only one of many paintings in the exhibit, to be
well within the community standards of art suitable for viewing by
people of all ages and hence appropriate for display at NCAR. The
Art Committee is made up of your peers, and they make every
attempt to select artwork that is both interesting and diversified
in order to give staff and visitors a variety of exhibits to
enjoy. Of course, meeting the legal standard is important, but
equally so, the committee is extremely sensitive to the feelings
of not only women scientists but also all staff members regardless
of race, gender, or other factors.
Similar issues have been raised in previous Delphi questions. As
stated in an earlier response (published in Staff Notes
Monthly in 1992), "Judgments about the offensiveness of
artwork and other material are highly personal and individual.
These personal judgments are the products of each of our
individual value systems and our religious and moral beliefs. As
can be seen by observing attempts to establish community obscenity
standards, it is impossible to define a single standard that will
satisfy all views."
The members of the NCAR Art Committee strive to be fair and
considerate to everyone in our diverse work environment. We
encourage staff to share opinions and differences with the
committee. For those who would like to become more involved in the
selection process, we encourage you to submit your names (e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org) to serve on the committee.
Nita Razo, coordinator
NCAR Art Exhibit Program
Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be
submitted in confidence to the coordinator, Janet Evans (ext.
1114, ML room 517). They should be submitted in written form,
preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked
confidential; they must be signed. Detailed procedures for
submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures
Questions and answers of general interest to staff are submitted
to Staff Notes Monthly by Janet. They may be edited for
publication. For more information, including links to questions
and answers published in Staff Notes Monthly and a log of
all questions submitted since 1995, see the
Delphi Service Web page.
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Edited by Bob Henson,
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
Last revised: Fri Aug 11 15:01:08 MDT 2000