To the Editor:
Upon hearing the extent of your enterprising senior art project, a few of your sisters and fellow travelers in the academy would like to respond to you, as a woman and a young academic.
This week, you have sparked a heightened level of consideration of the limits of modern artistic expression, and we are struck by the extent to which you have radically engaged your medium, your body and your community.
We commend your curiosity and your desire for courage. Most of all, we applaud your intention to enlarge the current discussions within your field and beyond. At this point, we recall that the kind of authentic conversation that you wish to spark both presupposes goodwill and requires a fruitful clarification of terms at the outset, in order to avoid misunderstanding. And in this regard, frankly, it would seem that rather than provoke real conversation, you have aborted it.
It would seem that as a human being and participant in the human family, your project has affronted the dignity of human life. It would seem that you have shown contempt for the plurality of religious and moral traditions that cherish human life from the moment of conception until natural death. It would seem that you affirm the elitism which declares that human life is exploitable for personal advancement.
It would seem that as a woman, you have scorned both the dignity of women who wait to bear children, and the pain of those who have grieved over a miscarriage or an abortion. It would seem that you have insulted the joy of women who rejoices in her pregnancy. It would seem that you have trivialized the suffering of women who have survived physical abuse by treating your own body as though it were nothing other than a means to an end.
Finally, as a student and artist, it would seem that you have contributed to the tabloidization of your discipline. And it would seem that as a purported dialogue partner, you have insisted on assumptions that ultimately foreclose discourse.
As you emphasize, appearances can be deceiving. For the sake of the discourse which you seem to seek, we invite you to respond to these possible instances of misunderstanding with work that affirms human life and celebrates the true contributions of women to the artistic and academic communities.
Until then, we wait with great anticipation.
Jessica Anderson MAR ’08, Elizabeth Arno ’03, Kristina Scurry Baehr LAW ’08, Elisa Berry DIV ’08, Tristyn Bloom ’11, Margaret Blume ’10, Lindsay Kathryn Cleveland DIV ’08, Heather Jean Bakker Ghormley DIV ’08, Anna Halpine MAR ’09, Phyllis Johnson LAW ’08, Kristine Kalanges, LAW ’08, Therese Mccabe Wales LAW ’09, Mary C. Moorman, MAR ’06, Sarah Patterson DIV ’08, Becky Perry LAW ’10, Sarah E. Pitlyk, LAW ’08, Meagan Reed LAW ’09, Monica Slinkard NUR ’10, Olivia Stewart DIV ’10, Alissa Wassung ’09, Erin Westmaas MUS ’07 and Elizabeth Wilkinson MAR ’08.