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Administration removes LGBTQ art from Open House

On+Thursday%2C+Oct.+26%2C+a+painting+of+a+rainbow+flag+and+two+gay+couples+was+removed+from+the+Art+Wing+display+in+preparation+for+Open+House.+According+to+Principal+Tom+Durkin%2C+the+painting+was+removed+because+%22We+have+policies+about+public+displays+of+affection+...+We+don%27t+want+to+make+people+uncomfortable%2C%22+he+said.
On Thursday, Oct. 26, a painting of a rainbow flag and two gay couples was removed from the Art Wing display in preparation for Open House. According to Principal Tom Durkin, the painting was removed because

On Thursday, Oct. 26, a painting of a rainbow flag and two gay couples was removed from the Art Wing display in preparation for Open House. According to Principal Tom Durkin, the painting was removed because "We have policies about public displays of affection ... We don't want to make people uncomfortable," he said.

Alyssa Kraus

Alyssa Kraus

On Thursday, Oct. 26, a painting of a rainbow flag and two gay couples was removed from the Art Wing display in preparation for Open House. According to Principal Tom Durkin, the painting was removed because "We have policies about public displays of affection ... We don't want to make people uncomfortable," he said.

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On Thursday, Oct. 26, the administration removed a student’s artwork from display in the Art Wing. The painting, created by senior Nicole Kanaras for her AP Studio portfolio, depicted a rainbow flag and two gay couples in support of gay pride. The painting was taken down two days before Open House, which was held on Saturday, Oct. 28. It was placed back on display on Monday, Oct. 30, two days after Open House.

“I was told it needed to be taken down and not prominently displayed at Open House,” Kanaras said. “It was one of those ‘It’s not the time or place,’ kind of things.”

According to Principal Tom Durkin, the painting was removed because it could make prospective students and families uncomfortable. “At Open House, we invite people into our home. We want to make sure things are clean and straightened up. We didn’t want things out that may bother someone,” he said.

At Open House, we invite people into our home. We want to make sure things are clean and straightened up. We didn’t want things out that may bother someone.”

— Principal Tom Durkin

Kanaras says she designed the painting to promote love and peace. She didn’t intend for her work to be interpreted as bothersome. Instead, her purpose was to spread equality among varying sexualities. “I’m just trying to give them a voice. I’m a straight woman, and I have a voice in society. I’m trying to stand up for the ones that don’t,” she said.

In the early stages of the decision, Durkin was uninformed on the subject. “I didn’t see the pictures myself, but we have policies about public displays of affection. It doesn’t matter what gender they are, we just wouldn’t display that whatsoever,” he said.

However, art teacher Erin Stellmon did not report public displays of affection as the Art Department’s reasoning behind the removal of the painting. It was all about, “Keeping a clear vision of what our mission was that day … but I didn’t talk about it as a public display of affection,” Stellmon said.

Open House is mainly run by the Office of Enrollment and the Marketing Office, so according to Durkin, the decision to remove the painting began there. “Enrollment informed me [of the painting], and I simply supported their decision. [They] saw a picture that might disturb some people, and obviously Open House is one of the times we don’t want to do that … We don’t want to make people uncomfortable,” Durkin said.

Removing the painting was done to avoid creating “any unwanted controversy,” Director of Enrollment Edward Maynard said. “My take on it is that there could be families that could be offended by it, and we are a Catholic school, and we should put our best foot forward,” he said.

Stellmon says that the painting created a distraction from the message they were trying to convey to prospective families. “For a day that was specifically the Open House, we felt [the painting] would be distracting … When we were presenting the Art Department, we just didn’t want [the painting] to distract from how we were presenting ourselves,” she said.

For a day that was specifically the Open House, we felt [the painting] would be distracting.”

— Art teacher Erin Stellmon

According to Maynard, he was unaware of any other paintings taken down other than Kanaras’. However, Fine Arts Department Chair Lisa Collins reported one other painting that was censored at Open House this year. The art by senior Christina He showcased a person being choked.

This is not the first year the school has removed paintings. A painting by Conrad Gagnon, class of ‘16, was taken down in 2016 because it included nudity. “As an art student, you have to know the code of conduct of what you can paint in the school, and nudity isn’t allowed,” Stellmon said.

Despite the controversy of Kanaras’ painting, Collins says it created a good conversation for the Art Department. “It sparked a discussion in our department about ‘Should we have some rules?’ Should we have something, maybe written, or some other mechanism for judging what is appropriate, because it is not only Catholic but also under 18,” Collins said.

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Some students who heard about Kanaras’ painting were skeptical about both the administration’s and the Art Department’s reasonings for taking the artwork down. For example, junior Angela Boeren has class in the Art Wing while Kanaras has AP Studio. “I think [the painting] was definitely taken down because it was homosexual. I mean, I know she had to go through a lot of hoops to paint it in the first place,” Boeren said.

Junior Sehrish Shaukat agrees with Boeren that the painting was removed for other reasons. “I definitely feel like it [was taken down] because it’s gay, because we are a Catholic school,” Shaukat said.

Kanaras had hopes her painting would be displayed with the rest of her pieces in her portfolio at Open House, just like it had been for the school year so far. “I don’t understand. The school focuses on loving one another, but the second people show it in a certain way, it isn’t okay,” she said.

Alyssa Kraus is the co-Editor in Chief of The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Administration removes LGBTQ art from Open House”

  1. Cheryl Hockman on November 8th, 2017 8:54 pm

    I can’t help but wonder if the painting had been of straight couples, if it would have been taken down. If that would have been the case then maybe there should be a policy or a rule in place. Great work Alyssa!

    [Reply]

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  2. Jo Michaels on November 9th, 2017 8:56 pm

    What has happened to the supposedly “Catholic” John Carroll HS? No one has the courage to say the painting was removed because it depicts homosexual acts? You have to hide behind “It was removed for showing a public display of affection” ? To make matters worse, you intentionally hid it from prospective students and their families who are searching for which CATHOLIC high school is best suited for them. You should have left it out there so parents could learn about the what is infiltrating John Carroll. This, combined with the return of the homosexual/transsexual “Love One Another” club is a clear sign where John Carroll is heading. This club was originally started by a writer at the Patriot who also wrote articles attacking Mother Theresa and supporting abortion.

    In case you forgot, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

    “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

    Before you pull out the old “Who Am I to Judge” comment from Pope Francis, lets remember he also said:

    “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family’. It is unacceptable ‘that local Churches should be subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies should make financial aid to poor countries dependent on the introduction of laws to establish “marriage” between persons of the same sex’.”

    and about teaching about choosing gender:

    ““Today, schools are teaching children-children!-that everyone can choose their own sex. And why is this being taught? Because their textbooks are chosen by the people and institutions that give money. This is ideological colonization, promoted by very influential nations. This is terrible”

    John Carroll needs to decide once and for all if it is a CATHOLIC high school, or one that just hides the fact that it’s not.

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  3. Kat on November 18th, 2017 6:59 pm

    I find this whole thing, including Jo’s comment, disgusting. I truly hope this person can one day, like, idk, actually experience the world and look into the SCIENCE (not religion) surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.
    However, more importantly, the art department’s outright refusal to stand behind their student makes me sick.

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Administration removes LGBTQ art from Open House