Role Playing the Cincinnati-Mapplethorpe Case in an Art Appreciation Course

By Kathryn Hagy.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Role playing can be an effective way to engage students in art appreciation courses, especially when those students come from varied fields of study without any intention of continuing in art. Games that bring history and contentious events alive allow students to evaluate historical contexts and apply new knowledge through live debate. This paper explores the methods, structure, and outcome of a classroom role-playing game on the topic of the 1990 case of Cincinnati versus Contemporary Art Center over obscenity charges from a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit. Artists have historically struggled against censorship. Introducing challenging artwork into an art appreciation classroom can be problematic when students lack proper analytical tools, but real-time debate allows students to push aside their discomfort and focus on the political, social and artistic forces of censorship. The author teaches at a small, private, Christian university and effectively uses the Mapplethorpe case to stimulate additional classroom discussion on academic freedom.

Keywords: Robert Mapplethorpe, Art Appreciation, Censorship, Obscenity, Reacting to the Past, Pedagogy, Cincinnati

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 599.479KB).

Kathryn Hagy

Associate Professor of Art and Chair of the Department of Communication, Literature and Arts, Department of Communication, Literature and Arts, Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA

Kathryn Hagy received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting/printmaking from the University of Washington in Seattle USA, and a Master of Fine Arts in painting/printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence USA. While at RISD, she received the Award of Excellence in Printmaking. She was selected as a 2010 Fulbright Senior Scholar to Nepal, and has been awarded fellowships to such residency programs as the MacDowell Colony and Frans Masereel Centrum. She has shown her work both nationally and internationally in such venues as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp Belgium, the International Print Center New York, Artlab in Memphis, and the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University. Currently, she is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication, Literature and Arts at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


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