Kathleen "K.C." Neill working with Zach Hyman in the MMofA, NYC
Photo by Clint Spaulding
Kathleen "K.C." Neill who was arrested in August during photographer Zach Hyman's shoot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, right. He had also been doing the public subway nudes. Well everybody thought he was taking this one too far, perhaps rightly so. She was arrested, but prosecutors finally reached the conclusion that they may not have been able to prove reasonable doubt. Its not illegal to be topless in NYC. Neill, however, was butt-naked. I knew there was the potential that they may try to make an example out of her and Hyman, but the question is really in defining what the law says is illegal and what isn't. Public Lewdness is the apparent legal term which really obscures the line. The defense can and did argue that she was not lewd in a room full of artistic nudes and that nudity does not equate to lewdness...per se.
So the girl got off, but you have to still wonder what doors this might therein open. Can Hyman now walk into a elementary classroom in PS 234 and commence to shooting? Can he now stroll into Bellevue Hospital and do as he wills? I can understand his need for his artistic expression. I hold true to the same thing. Public nudes is also concept I'd like to explore, but I'm not for being around kids. I guess that's where I draw the line. There were kids in the museum the day he and Kathleen Neill were working and I think I'd like to respect a parent's right to not have a kid in that atmosphere. You can see in the top photo, above, that there is a young boy getting full-frontal staring him in the face. If I'm the kid, I'm not so sure I'd be complaining. But if I'm the MOM standing next to the kid, I'd be looking for my mace. Viewing painting are one thing. Its a finished work and you still have the element of choice there. Hyman's gig was a work in progress and there was no reasonable sense of expectation for parents that their kids would be subjected to this scene. I've shot in a museum before. I had a nude model in the Erotic Heritage Museum during normal business hours. A lady was startled to discover my nude model was indeed live and not a mannequin. I will admit, that was a funny thing to witness. HOWEVER, no kids were in this museum. There was already depictions on erotica all over the museum. My shoot was for a non-erotic workshop, and my party were the only ones allowed in with cameras. The pics you see here are of Model, Brandi Bottoms as she worked that session. Talk about a fabulous model! If you get the chance to work with her, don't pass it up for no reason whatsoever. Make sure you get her well in advance, though.
But,I guess even I have my limits. I applaud Hyman for his efforts and his choice of expression. I just wish artists didn't feel the need to ... well, I'm not quite sure how to articulate this statement. "Push the limits" was how I had initially intended to end that sentence. But isn't that what we are encouraged to do. We all want to push the limits. That's how we differentiate and distinguish ourselves. I'm just bothered by it a little. No, I didn't want to see the model go to jail. I just wish the photographer had chosen a different forum or venue for his expressions. I'd have a healthy respect for those artists who allow me the opportunity to decide when its okay for my kids to be exposed to nudity. I thank them for letting it be on my terms and not forced upon them unawares. Yes, I know there are so many other darts of exposure shot at them from movies, the internet, and video games. I'm not so naive to believe otherwise. However rarely are you surprised to see it in a rap video. You realize there's the possibility of seeing it in a movie because of the rating. But in the Metropolitan Museum is not an venue that I would expect to see it. My kids are all grown up now. But I'd have been a pissed off individual had I walked in to my Wells Fargo bank with my young ones and have an artist expressing themselves in like manner.