The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Educational art

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I have never written in to Viewpoint before, but felt that Morgan C. Caudle’s letter to the editor (“Exhibit Indeed” Sept. 8) could not go unaddressed. Perhaps my biggest issue with Caudle’s argument is her statement that “death and destruction are not art.” I could not disagree more. The purpose of art, while heavily debated, is definitely not merely to aesthetically please the viewer. Glenn Close wrote that “All great art comes from a sense of outrage,” and indeed passion stemming from a disturbance to one’s reality is many times the root of great art.

In Lauren Greenfield’s case, her photographs and documentary were spurred on by her exposure to the horrific nature and prevalence of eating disorders in our modern society. Greenfield began her artistic project not to entertain, but to change the fact that eight million Americans are suffering from eating disorders, and the numbers are steadily rising. Moreover, Caudle claims that Lauren Greenfield’s documentary, “Thin,” which traces the journeys of four women in a residential treatment facility for eating disorders, associates “a deadly mental illness with mere entertainment.”

I watched this documentary last year on campus with five friends and remember looking down the row and seeing tears in nearly every eye. As someone who visited the “Thin” exhibit at the Snite museum last week, I can assure you that no one would look at the photographs displayed in that room for “entertainment” either. I left the exhibit with tears in my eyes and physically could not look at some of the pictures because of the realities to which I knew they were attached. We do not attend these movies because they are aesthetically pleasing, but because they show us some truth in a world that is too many times censored. This exhibit is reality and to live with a knowledge of these atrocities is not only important, but essential to alleviating such conditions in the future.

It is not, as Caudle wrote, dangerous to “the mental and physical health of the students of the University of Notre Dame” for the Snite Museum to host such an exhibit, but the exact opposite. Without such art, we remain oblivious to the dangers of eating disorders and the existence of them in the first place. Such thinking as Caudle’s is the reason our Notre Dame community remains ignorant to the roots of such a widespread issue on our very own campus.

Molly Kringsenioroff campusSept. 8