First-Year Writing Contest


Maren Pedersen


First-Year Writing Contest 2002

Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 2002

Author Comments

As a child growing up in the western suburbs of Chicago, I had a plethora of cultural outlets at the tip of my fingers. My mother thought it extremely important for her children to have a solid base in the fine arts, so we often accompanied her to museums and theatre events. I always enjoyed the Art Institute because of its vast collection of paintings, sculptures, and photographs. As the years went by, I developed a fond appreciation for impressionist pieces such as Degas’ dancers and Monet’s water lilies. I attended Interlochen Arts Camp for five summers, and my love for classical art forms thrived. Eager to see what else the art world had to offer, I visited Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art during its 2001 Summer Solstice Celebration.

To be honest, upon entering the museum I observed the art with disgust. In one corner was a chair made entirely of raw meat. In a separate room, a television continuously played a shrieking clown. I could not fathom who would ever consider this art, let alone art created by an exceptionally gifted artist. Revolted by what I had seen, I quickly left

the museum. After reflecting on the experience, however, I realized that I had no right to insult the talent of the artist. Who am I to judge? I am not an art critic, yet I am still a member of the viewing audience. Do I have the right to challenge the integrity of the art

world? When asked by my freshmen studies teacher, Siobhan Moroney, to examine an aspect of civil disobedience or political obligation, I decided to investigate the decency standards of art as well as the government’s role in funding it and the protection of the artistic expression that accompanies it. By examining this issue, I was forced to confront pieces I would otherwise never want to see. After careful contemplation and extensive research, I concluded that art of all forms is necessary to provoke and sustain an intriguing and diverse culture.

Faculty Advisor

Siobhan Moroney



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