OPEN LETTER TO MUSEUM OF CHILDREN’S ART
re: Gaza exhibition of children’s art censored with apparent USA/ISRAEL bias.
Hilmon Sorey, Chair
Museum of Children’s Art
538 Ninth Street, Suite 210 Oakland, CA 94607
October 1, 2011
Dear Hilmon Sorey,
I am an artist who is well aware of the importance of providing free expression by children and the right of free passage for a venue to be heard. In the 60’s I was recognised as an artist through my hometown’s local newspaper, The Toowoomba Chronicle’s Junior Art Competition when I was 15 in Australia.
I am the director of The Lovelink Project Lk, a children and community art for peace program I founded in New York in 1985.
I am writing to object to the cancellation of the Gaza group art exhibit:
“A Child’s view from Gaza”.
Let me tell you how deeply hurt I am by the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA Lk) since your board decided to circumvent the opportunity for the children of Gaza to present their own expressions of truth – especially on the important, timely and glaring subject surrounding conditions of brutality that children and families face on the ground, at home, school and work, since war, want and attack is their only life’s experience.
Of course by comparison my hurt as a human and an artist is general. The hurt for the child artists expecting to exhibit at MOCHA and for all children in Gaza, who are forced into hopelessness the board’s censorship is just a further act of contempt and war untoward them. It speaks loudly of USA wartime complicity and hypocrisy of freedom.
To think that the exhibition is part of a MECA Lk program that utilizes art to help children cope with trauma – and here you exacerbate that trauma.
And it is a slap in the face of children as artists in the USA isn’t it? Rather than standing up and acclaiming children’s art as equal and deserving you do the opposite. Adult artists would not be treated in this way by a museum in 2011, and if they were they would be rightfully due their outrage and damages. But children artists and visitors at your museum are dismissed and torn.
In your letter of explanation September 12, 2011, you are saying that the board concurs with the voices of parents, care givers and educators in that the works are inappropriate for the whole of your young audience, and, since you can’t isolate peer expression into some restricted room or other you have had to breach your contract with the artists of Gaza and their agent/s and sponsors.
Not once do you mention the weight of staff, board members, parents, care givers, educators, artists, children, community members and lawyers who may be convinced and vocal in pointing out that the exhibit is binding, of no harm, actually of benefit and in line with the museum’s purpose and UN Human Rights pertaining to free speech. In fact some may be pointing to the U.S. Constitution with regard to free speech and Ninth Circuit rulings of access.
I assume that there were no complaints of that nature in the discussion leading up to the cancellation, or that MOCHA is stone deaf to these voices since you did not mention them. The latter would more likely fit your character of prejudicial thinking because you are openly ignoring the Gaza child artists in that way.
I believe the discrimination bells are ringing loud and clear around MOCHA:
- Did MOCHA seek legal advice?
- Betty Olson-Jones, speaking on behalf of the Oakland Education Association says past artwork displayed at MOCHA has included many examples of the violence in children’s lives.
- What evidence does MOCHA base it’s decision on that such images cause harm to children viewers?
- Is MOCHA unaware that museums, school books, religious graphics including the crucifixion of Christ and media presentations of images of violence are openly displayed in places where children go and are welcome?
- Can MOCHA show that the objectors of the exhibition are active and consistent in calling for censorship of such graphics across all platforms of presentation and media where children might go?
- Did MOCHA identify objectors as being impartial to the Palestine USA/Israel war being independently appalled at the violence done to Gaza by the enemy alliance, or are they in fact direct or indirect criminals and/or participants in the continued unjustifiable violence and imprisonment of the region and its people?
It is disturbing that a children’s art museum is toying with children in such dire need. The MOCHA walls are now stained with the reflection of the same state and corporate propaganda regardless of the individuals or entities that you sight as controlling MOCHA’s decision in this matter, and I might say, violates free speech and access. This culture is rooted in the same entities that support the deliberate killing of civilians in Gaza.
You have appeased your most debased elements and at the same time failed your most worthy supporters. Shame.
Artist, The Lovelink Project founder
UPDATE March 02, 2017
I have not had a reply to my letter from Mocha.
Mocha has changed it’s logo since the time of controversy over the banned children’s art exhibition.
The Electronic Intifada Alice Walker urges children’s museum to reverse decision, but censoring of Gaza kids’ art continues by Nora Barrows-Friedman September 16, 2011
Alice Walker Empathy Is A Wave: The Banning of Palestinian Children’s Art (from the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland) by Alice Walker September 11, 2011
Color Lines Tempers Flare Over Cancellation of Palestinian Youth Art Exhibit
by Noelle de la Paz September 30 2011
Mondoweiss Could censorship of children’s art prove a turning point? by Henry Norr on September 29, 2011