October 9, 2007

How Nudes are Fairing in South Carolina

October is festival and fair month and there is so much excitement to distract one from working. This year I decided to challenge both myself and the South Carolina Fair system by exhibiting contraband materials - nudes. I had no trouble exhibiting nudes at the State level but only this year was told that technically it wasn't allowed. At the Orangeburg County Fair, there has never been a nude exhibited until this year when I presented my painting "Deluge." I painted "Deluge" in honor of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The painting features a semi-clad seated woman partially submerged. It was cathartic to paint it, but not only for the people lost and for the sorrow over my country's response. I had lost a number of artworks in the flood and was saddened by the loss but because the human tragedy was so great I did not dare say anything about a material loss which seemed trivial in comparison. But it stung nevertheless and painting something about loss was soothing to the soul. So armed with a story and a painting that was only semi-nude I set out to make local history. Previously, someone coming to the County Fair with even the most tastefully rendered nude would be compelled to take it down before the opening to prevent offending public sensibilities. I had a few things working towards my advantage here, however. A friend and sensible woman was in charge of taking in the pieces at the fair, and I offered to stay and help hang the show - thereby making it neccessary for anyone objecting to the piece to have to say so to my face. Oh, we spent a whole week prior to the show, my friend Harriett and I, thinking up arguments and justifications - not a one of which had to be used. In the end, good manners were all that mattered and the piece stayed. It was the only oil painting not to win any prizes, mind you, but the public was allowed to see it. And for all the nervousness about nudes in small towns in South Carolina - there was not a peep of complaint from the public. And history was quietly made. Tune in Sunday for the results of nudes at the South Carolina State Fair - three of them!


artsails1 said...


I found your article very interesting and it certainly does pose many perplexing questions. Thanks for putting it out there....Jeanee aka http://artsails1.blogspot.com

harriett said...

Dear Janet - I am proud to be shoulder to shoulder with you!! What a wise and fantastic person to have allowed the work in the first place!! ;)

BTW, to comment, you just click "comments" . . .