The New Puritanism strikes again

I’ve been an enthusiast of the work of the Philadelphia visual artist Paul Cava for more than ten years now — several of his prints have found places of honor on my apartment walls — so it’s saddening to find that he’s the latest victim of the neo-Puritanical narrow-mindedness that seems to have made such inroads into American cultural life over the past few years.

Inks, a solo show of Paul’s work, was scheduled to open today at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral; plans have been laid for the show for the past several months. News comes this afternoon, however, that on the eve of the show’s opening, the exhibition has been cancelled. Paul wrote on Facebook today that:

The administration was supportive of the work and excited about the exhibition, however, after seeing the show installed, a few constituents objected to certain elements of nudity in about half of the works. This created an untenable situation relative to the cohesiveness and meaning of the work.

Paul also says that the entire show — including the nudes — had been reviewed and approved by cathedral staff before today. Twice.

Paul’s work has always emerged organically from concerns of tradition, spirituality, and intellectual perception, the very concerns that form the bedrock of Anglican and Episcopal theology itself (not to mention its open-mindedness and tolerance), which makes this decision doubly damning. It’s a shame that these few “constituents” have been unable to perceive this affinity between Paul’s work and the theology of the Christian denomination to which they belong; it’s a crime that their influence will prevent others from confronting the work themselves.

I do hope that another venue can be found for Inks; in the meantime, you can see several of the works in question at the Od Review web site here.