Campus artists trivialized in a photo caption

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

To the editor:
I write as Chair of Visual Arts to lodge a complaint regarding the photo caption on the front page of your Jan. 30 issue. The caption reads: “Take your PVA glue and stick it up your arse, Art Attack. Katie Grantham, a fourth-year student, does some artsy-fartsy shit in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre yesterday. Hats off to her skill; we at The Gazette have trouble with stick figures.”

This caption was brought to my attention by students in the program who are upset by it and by faculty members as well.

While I suspect it is intended as humour and sense we are supposed to read it as supportive of the student’s efforts, the extremely base use of language produces the opposite effect. “Artsy-fartsy shit” demeans the work of our students and associates the student pictured with an activity that is trivial, if not worse.

In your role as editor of a student newspaper that ostensibly supports communication, free speech and the use of language in public culture, it is unfortunate you allow this kind of misguided prose to be used " to undermine the representation of the educational activities of some students at the university.

I urge you to encourage your caption writers to elevate their use of language and to try to ensure their fellow students are represented " and “commented upon” if necessary " in a fair and dignified manner.
"Patrick Mahon
Visual Arts

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