Does nude art belong in a Christian education?

Like many Christian colleges and universities, Wheaton College greatly values the discovery and individuality in artistic expression. “The art department encourages students to make art that is culturally relevant, while seeking out beauty and significance, celebrating individual uniqueness, and participating in community,” according to the Wheaton College art department website.
However, there is also a significant gray area surrounding the creation of nude or provocative pieces of art in a Christian setting.
Wheaton College has been working on a formal policy to address art-related issues for years, according to assistant professor of art history Matthew Milliner.
There have been numerous meetings between members of the art department, the administration and other constituents of the college including associate dean of Residence Life Justin Heth to discuss the issue of nude art at Wheaton. Heth emphasized that the art department does an excellent job of encouraging students to be able to draw the body, “which is beautiful and created by God.”
One roadblock frequently encountered by art students is the college’s decision not to provide a figure drawing class. Sophomore Natalie Flemming is one of many students affected by the lack of a figure drawing class at Wheaton. “I understand Wheaton’s stance on this issue and I respect it, but as an art student who is required to take a class in nude drawing for graduate school, it makes it difficult,” she stated.
Figure drawing classes are a rare commodity among Christian colleges. But Gordon College and Baylor University both defy this trend in offering classes that study the undraped human form. In an article on the website “Art Lessons From God,” one Gordon representative stated, “If you can accurately and expressively draw or paint or sculpt the human form, you can draw anything.”
Heth said that many people tend to worry that a figure drawing class or other similar class might motivate some students to sign up for pornographic reasons. “Guys don’t need to go to the class to look at naked people, they can just turn on their phone,” stated Heth. “I don’t think it is going to cause more pornography use. People are already looking at that. They don’t need to sign up for a class or pay money for that.”

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