I love the artwork in my home, and I’ve never given a second thought to the themes of sex, drugs, and rock and roll in my collection until having a child. Now that my husband and I have welcomed a little one into the world, I give more pause to the content of our collection and future art purchases.
Will the large print of Brigitte Bardot with a cigarette carelessly dangling from her mouth make my son more likely to take up smoking? Could the Mcbess drawings of scantily-clad ladies lead him to objectify women? I know the answer to these questions are, probably not, but I still wonder if the artwork we surround ourselves with could have an influence on an impressionable mind. Although censorship seems inappropriate, should content be more carefully considered when bringing new art into the home? Or can the content of each piece become a conversation and a teachable moment when age appropriate? – M
I vaguely recall the artwork growing up in my house: 1970s and ’80s-era landscapes, weird paintings of children holding candles, giant ships, some words on canvas in there somewhere, maybe even some velvet?! I remember them, but I can barely recall thinking about them more than once or twice. Once you grow up in an environment, you become immune to what’s around for the most part. This makes me think that your worries are probably not anything to fret too much about considering how your little one probably won’t even take much of it in ultimately.
But you’re absolutely right that everything can become a teachable moment. Bringing up the history of smoking and how much it’s changed in the past decades could be great. Scantily-clad ladies can prompt a discussion about healthy sexuality and body image. Unless there’s really objectionable, hateful, or divisive propagandist art in your house, you can pretty much spin most things into a lesson about something.
For future purposes, you can always keep these lessons in mind and start to surround yourself with a mix of images that will prompt discussions. But for questionable art that’s already there, it sounds to me like your kiddo will be just fine with you as a mentor in future art appreciation.
Readers: what do YOU say about wilder or more controversial art in a child’s home?