Council president: Museum photo is pornography

Yarborough wants mayor to pull funding from MOCA Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A photograph on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville -- and the City Council president's response to it -- is at the center of a controversy over the line between art and pornography.

The photograph by artist Angela Strassheim, which hangs in the museum's atrium, shows a naked pregnant woman lying on a couch (edited in photo above). Council President Clay Yarborough called the image pornography and wants the mayor to pull funding given to the museum indirectly by the city.

The Mayor's Office issued a statement about Yarborough's comments:

"Given the possible First Amendment implications of Council President Yarborough's demand to pull Cultural Council funding from MOCA, we have forwarded his request to the City's Office of General Counsel for legal review."

Yarborough's comments are also raising a lot of attention on social media, with many using the hashtag #istandwithMOCA.

John Adamson showed up at the museum, which was closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, because he heard about the photograph and wanted to see it for himself.

"First off, it is someone's idea of art. It's their idea of art. Not necessarily mine, but it's a piece of art. I understand if I come here with my children, I am going to educate them that this is a place of contemporary art," Adamson said. "This is something that someone makes a choice to come and see, and it's a benefit to the city. It's an open-mindedness. We don't need to be closed-minded in this day and time and age."

But Yarborough does not see it that way at all and issued this statement:

"It stunned me to walk into a City-owned building and be greeted by a large picture of a naked woman, particularly because the tenant is receiving over $230,000 in General Fund taxpayer dollars through the Cultural Council this fiscal year. The picture is in plain view of anyone entering, including school children. I notified the Mayor's Office Tuesday after seeing it and attempted to reach the Mayor yesterday to find out whether he supports or opposes the pornography remaining in place, but I have not received a response. This issue works against our efforts to promote a family-friendly Jacksonville and downtown. We are trying to promote a positive moral climate in our city and though some will defend the pornography by labeling it 'art,' we need boundaries in order to be healthy, especially where it concerns our children."

A MOCA Jacksonville spokeswoman said no one from the museum was available to comment because of the holiday.  

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