Target: Hannes Zacharias, county manager of Johnson County, Kansas
Goal: Support continued presence of a bare-breasted “sexting” statue on statue walk in Overland Park Arboretum
Earlier this summer, a group of Chinese artists donated a new bronze statue to Overland Park Arboretum in Johnson County, Kansas. Titled “Accept or Reject,” the abstract statue features a woman, sliced at several of her joints and sans head, who is exposing her breasts and holding a camera up to take a picture of them. In response, the American Family Association (AFA), a conservative “pro-family” group which was named a hate group in 2010, has gathered the 4,700 signatures necessary to force Johnson County to convene a grand jury, at which the permanent presence of the statue will be debated and decided. According to the AFA, the statue violates community standards on obscenity and encourages “sexting.” According to the artist, Yu Chang, the statue is about women’s disturbing tendency to objectify themselves, and is meant to provoke thought on this subject.
The AFA’s observations carry less weight when you take into account that “Accept or Reject” appears on a walk in the park deliberately designated as a sculpture trail, the entrance of which bears a sign explicitly warning that some material might not be suitable for children. The sculpture trail also features statues of nude males with their genitalia exposed, none of which have prompted objections from the AFA: apparently, the problem here is not the presence of a partially nude body, but the presence of a partially nude female body.
Write to the county manager of Johnson County and tell him that you support the continued presence of the statue regardless of the AFA’s objections, and that you hope that he will too.
Dear Hannes Zacharias,
I write to you today following the recent objections voiced by the American Family Association regarding a sculpture titled “Accept or Reject” recently added to the sculpture trail of Overland Park Arboretum in Johnson County. The group’s objections to this statue stem from a contention that it violates community standards on obscenity and encourages sexting. As to obscenity, “Accept or Reject” is part of a sculpture trail which explicitly warns at the entrance that some material may not be suitable for children. As to sexting, artist Yu Chang insists the sculpture is meant to comment on people’s (especially women’s) tendency to lose their humanity in objectifying themselves and fragmenting themselves into parts, and the danger that digital technology may exacerbate this tendency. The piece is thought provoking and artistic, and there is no reason to keep it from being displayed in a public park.
When Johnson County convenes a grand jury to debate the presence of this sculpture, I hope you will stand for its continued presence in the park as a thought-provoking piece of art which does no more to violate community standards on obscenity than other statues on the walk which show nude male figures.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: geograph.org.uk