Just below the online Boston Globe's latest story on Kaavya-gate is another on the removal of an art show at Brandeis University. Curated by student Lior Halperin, the exhibition displays paintings solicited from young people living in a Palestinian refugee camp, and was pulled by the university administration after complaints that the show was "one-sided."
One (this one, anyway) thinks, of course it was, and then, and thank God for that. Art--whether graphic, narrative, etc.--isn't about balance, or even fairness, taken either one work at a time or as collected into a compilation or exhibition. (Do all the anthologies we've been seeing of "stories for boys" need to have "stories for girls," too?) Give me a point of view anytime.
A more interesting question is one about the political uses of children's art. It kind of bugs me that such exhibitions rely on the artist's youth and lack of talent and/or training for their impact. Isn't this exploitative? Not of the child artists, who probably enjoy the attention (although I wonder if they were paid for their work), but of our myth of childhood's innocence: the more awkward, unskilled, and unsubtle these pictures are, the more "authentic" and thereby "truthful" we take them to be. It's the everything-you-learn-in-kindergarten-is-enough school of thought, which lacks respect for both grownups and kids.
I'm reminded of a comment Horn Book reviewer Susan Dove Lempke made to me years ago, when we were both working at BCCB. We were looking at a picture book that employed a faux-childlike style for the pictures, where the sun is a yellow circle and the sky a blue line. Susan said, "you know, kids wish they didn't draw this way."