Nude photos prompt library review of exhibit policy

Nude photos prompt library review of exhibit policy

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Library photos

The interior of the second floor of Crandall Public Library is reflected into a photograph of a naked woman on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Glens Falls. (Megan Farmer -

GLENS FALLS -- Crandall Public Library board will review the library’s policy for displaying artwork after receiving complaints about nude photos displayed in a recent exhibit, said Michael Toomey, president of the library board.

“It’s something in the future we must think about how we address it,” he said in an interview after a library board meeting Wednesday.

The North Country Arts Center juried photography show, which opened July 7 in the library’s Friends Gallery, included two photographs by Matthew Farenell of nude women.

The gallery is at the opposite end of the second floor from the children’s department, with a wall of book stacks between them.

One photograph was a full frontal view of a woman standing in front of a desk surrounded by ivy.

The other photograph was a side view of a woman gymnast hanging by her feet from a wooden ceiling rafter in a ballet-style pose.

The exhibit was ending Thursday, and was to be taken down on Friday.

Toomey said the library received “about three” complaints about the exhibit.

“It’s a matter of taste,” he said.

He said the board did not immediately discuss the complaints on Wednesday because the exhibit was ending.

Toomey said the photos were displayed high enough that a child would not see them, and the photos were small enough that it wasn’t apparent the subjects were nude from a distance.

Toomey said nude photography was not a major aspect of the exhibit.’

“It’s not like the whole exhibit. It’s two things,” he said.

Jon Segan, coordinator of the exhibit for the North Country Arts Center, said he was not aware anyone complained about the photographs.

He said the arts group, which promotes local artists, has had art and photography exhibits at the library twice annually the past four years, and has exhibited nude paintings and photography in the past, without issues.

Segan said the photographs are artistic and not sexually graphic.

“I’m not going to call them nude. I’m going to call them figure studies,” he said. “When you go to art school, the first thing in drawing class is a live model.”

Segan said the Friends of Crandall Public Library gallery policy specifies that “There are no restrictions on style or the particular media that may be shown. Because of the proximity of the children’s department of the library, some discretion is advised.”

Segan said the group has always been mindful of the proximity of the children’s department.

“We’ve always kind of had that in mind,” he said. “We kind of try to set aside what wall to put it on where it won’t be seen as much going into the children’s room or coming out of the children’s room.”

Segan said the arts group would reject artwork or photography that is sexually graphic.

“Sometimes, it’s kind like a judgment call, I guess. But we haven’t had that situation,” he said.

Library Director Kathy Naftaly, in an interview before the board meeting, said the library received “a few inquiries” about the photographs.

“Art is in the eye of the beholder,” she said.

Naftaly, prior to the board meeting, said library staff does not plan to initiate a change in policy in response to the complaints.

“Quite frankly, it (the gallery) is not adjacent to the children’s room. And it is an art exhibit,” she said.

Toomey, the board president, said the gallery is operated by Friends of Crandall Public Library, a library support group, not the library staff.


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