#KwaZuluNatal: The art exhibit by a student at the Richards Bay school featuring Jesus as the Ronald McDonald clown along with satanist-inspired concepts, has shaken the minds of South Africans.
The school which is grounded in Christian based ethos is taking an incredible amount of pressure from primarily the Christian community over the artworks.
A former headboy from the Richards Bay school has penned a an open letter over the matter.
The following letter was submitted to SAPeople by former Headboy, Sinjon Moffett:
Dear Grantleigh Staff, particularly Mr. Andrew Norris,
I, alongside many South Africans, have recently been witness to the artwork prepared by one of your current Grade 12 learners that formed part of the year-end exhibition. I have also been following the widespread upheaval in reaction to this display.
Furthermore, I have seen the school’s official preliminary response. I believe it is my responsibility as a past-pupil and a representative of the Christian faith to voice my deep disappointment over this matter. Before I do so, I would like to point out the following:
- The fact that the artwork formed part of the students ‘IEB Final Submission’ in no way removes the responsibility that Grantleigh bears for the final product. All accolades achieved by learners within Grantleigh are claimed as a result of the excellent education offered by the institution. And rightly so. Learners are truly only as good as the opportunity’s and care they are given. However, this means that Grantleigh assumes full responsibility for this learners artwork, as was established when the learner was rewarded and commended publicly by the school.
- ‘Freedom of expression’ is unfortunately not a viable justification. You should make no attempt to pretend that Grantleigh allows students to express their unbridled personal opinions and beliefs. This is simply not true, and I say this to your absolute credit. I was witness to a number of students during my time in Grantleigh who expressed racist and homophobic viewpoints, who were instantly shutdown and disciplined by staff. And rightly so. The school and all of its staff are actively involved in moulding the minds of their learners to develop an open and compassionate worldview.
- The artistic technique used by the student is clearly exceptional. Besides the fact that a number of their pieces carry plagiaristic similarity to other international artist’s works, it is clear to see that they are an extremely talented individual. However, the first lesson of contemporary art is that it is the message, not the method, that carries importance. Any art teacher or enthusiast will attest to this, as this has been the general understanding of art since around the time of Duchamp. This removes the prospect for any explanation that the learner’s art was skilfully executed and therefore respectable.
- Children are impressionable. I am not referring to the young adults occupying Grades 8 through 12. I am referring to the little children, as young as 5 years old, who have free access to the school hall and therefore these artworks. Disregarding the religious controversy that the artworks present, they are objectively violent and graphic in nature. Surely the public display of these works within a sheltered school environment is deeply irresponsible and a complete oversight on behalf of the staff body. A school should be where dreams are inspired, not nightmares.
I am well aware that the learner who created these artworks is perhaps revelling in the amount of attention their work is currently receiving. I am also aware that you perhaps consider this situation to be a statement on the school’s behalf to disassociate yourselves with the Christian ethos rooted in the school’s history. With all this in mind, I have one question I would like to pose to you:
Why was it deemed appropriate to publicly deface, misrepresent and mock the figure who many within the Grantleigh family, as well as millions of people globally, worship as their God?
The simple truth is that if this was attempted with any other religion, Grantleigh would (hopefully) never have permitted it. If the learner had made an artwork that encourages racism, Grantleigh would (hopefully) never have permitted it. If the learner had made an artwork containing bigoted slurs against the LGBTQ community, Grantleigh would (hopefully) never have permitted it. I say this with such confidence because I know that Grantleigh does not allow their learners to be hateful, disrespectful, or prejudiced toward any group of people, but to rather be respectful and loving of all races, cultures and religions. This is what Jesus himself preached, what Jesus himself displayed, and what Jesus himself still inspires within people today. I am deeply disappointed to see that it is Jesus who has been belittled under the flag of the school that claims to embody a Christ-inspired ethos.
Grantleigh, you are responsible for this iniquity against all the people who follow Jesus, and against God himself. I hope that you are humble enough and wise enough to accept this responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and disassociate yourselves with the artworks and the artist.
With love, as a proud Grantleigh alumnus,
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Source: SA People