G. Wayne Clough says he wishes he took more time before removing ‘A Fire in My Belly

Posted on January 22, 2011


G. Wayne Clough, the Smithsonian Institution’s chief executive, said Thursday that Republican House leaders’ threats of budgetary consequences factored into his Nov. 30 decision to remove a video from a National Portrait Gallery exhibition of work done primarily by artists who are gay and lesbian. LA Times…MORE

G.Wayne blinked and that was that. Now it seems it really doesn’t matter because funding for the arts is on the chopping block anyway. It is no surprise and really it shouldn’t be that funding for the Arts and humanities are being targeted for major funding cuts.

What is also not a  surprise and perhaps even more important is the Arts are under attack for intellectual content. Controversial Art like the film by Artist David Wojnarowicz a Life Censored was censored because of FEAR. Fear that an uncomfortable idea challenged the status Que. The Wojnarowicz film is an insider perspective about dying of Aids and being Gay in America. He challenges the idea of religion and a Church that abandoned him in his greatest time of need. Taboo territory in the world of conservative politics.

I think the film asks an even a more fundamental question of  all Americans. When did we lose our compassion for others in need? Is the fact that anyone who is different from us personally, for any reason, reason enough to abandon them? Will we as Americans continue down the road of segregation, isolating those who hold different life styles and ideas.

It is my opinion that ideas, art that challenge our preconceived beliefs are the works we can really learn from and grow as human beings. While I may not share David Wojnarowicz’s ideas about sexuality or life style I can learn about his experience and develop an understanding of his struggle. With knowledge I can combat unfounded fear and form more informed ideas and opinions of what I once did not understand.

The idea of Equality in America has been a long hard struggle in our history as a nation from the beginning. Color, National Origin, Religion and  Sexual Orientation  have always existed at the forefront of the battle. Today as we celebrate the great strides made toward a nation of equality for all people we are still a country dominated by fear and ignorance. Fear about ideas we do not understand. That should have been enough reason to stand up to those who threatened funding when an uncomfortable film was included in an exhibit at the National Gallery.

After All; that was the purpose of the exhibit.