GREENVILLE — Two local women are asking why their submitted art was removed at this year’s Darke County Fair.
Mikayla Setser of Greenville and Amanda Mote of Union City both contend their artworks were removed from display without cause.
Setser’s work is a color photo of a friend’s baby daughter. It was displayed at the Fair’s Fine Arts Building, was awarded a first-place ribbon but then removed from view.
Mote’s artwork, pastels and drawings, originally were hung but then removed from display before judging. All three of her works feature subtle nudity.
Both women described themselves as perplexed and disappointed by the move.
Setser said the Fine Arts Director Nancy Foureman told her the photo was removed because it was considered “child pornography.”
“She then lectured me and told me that those kind of pictures are OK for a picture book at home, or to be displayed at home, but were not appropriate to be put on display there,” she said.
Setser said a similar black-and-white photo of her son was not removed.
“To be accused of child pornography, that’s kind of a big deal and something that shouldn’t be thrown around lightly,” she said.
Mote said her art was classified as nudes and a person at the Fine Arts Building confided to her Mote’s works were removed because they might cause somebody “sinful thinking” and could be offensive to German Baptists. Further, she said she was told the decision was “unanimous” by the five-person committee who oversees the department.
“I was upset,” she said. “Not that they didn’t like my work but more the fact that it wasn’t across the board and there was no clear-cut answer as to why it couldn’t be displayed.”
Foureman, the director of the Fair’s Fine Arts Department, refused to comment on why these specific works were removed, which persons spoke to the women or who specifically made the decisions regarding their disqualification.
She did, however, point to reasons why artwork may be refused.
“The best thing I can tell you, to help the artists who come into this building, is to get a prospectus for this show about the rules and it is a juried and judged show,” she said. “They need to understand that. That’s very different from a judged show.”
Nothing in the Darke County Fair’s book of rules and regulations appears to disqualify works containing nudity. There are specifications regarding the number of works which may be entered, how they should be displayed and who may enter.
Fair Board Manager Brian Rismiller said the matter is something which should be reviewed before next year’s Fair.
“There needs to be better language in this fair book that tells people what’s going to happen with their artwork if something is found offensive,” he said.
Rismiller said neither he nor the Fair Board had a say in the decision.
“It’s a juried show, and Nancy is the jury that decides whether a piece stays on display or does not,” he said.
Nonetheless, Rismiller expressed sympathy for the two artists, saying he did not personally find their work offensive.
“I do feel like every piece is art, every photograph, every painting, every piece of artwork that’s in there, is art. No matter if it’s nude, in any way, shape or form, it’s artwork,” he said.