Nancy’s work has been censored and banned by numerous entities- that’s part of how you know you’re doing social commentary that matters!
Excerpt from SF Chronicle, Tuesday May 4, 1976
“Nancy Worthington’s sculpture, entitled “Euthanasia” depicts a man in very poor health being kept alive by a life support system. It looked too realistic to some critics at Syntex Corporation’s national headquarters in Palo Alto yesterday, where the work of art…was banned from an exhibit. Worthington’s stomach-churning sculpture was removed from “the polymorphous multifarious sculpture show” and hidden in a closet near the ladies’ room of the company galleries. …The banning and closeting of her sculpture outraged, offended and then depressed Worthington, 28, a San Francisco sculptor who was, she said, “only trying to make a social statement. I was trying to help make people aware of what can happen to them on their death bed, how machines in our technological society become more important than life,” she said. The sculpture, she said, shows how “the dignity of an individual is usurped by doctors with all their fancy machines. I never expected this to happen—It’s censorship at its worst,” said Worthington, who likened the incident to “the Russians bulldozing away an exhibit in Moscow recently. I think there’s something wrong in our country when art is censored—It’s a scary thing.”
Exert from S.F. Examiner, Jan 5, 1978
“On the opening day of the exhibit, Worthington dressed in white, sat in the space where her sculpture had been. She held a picture of “Euthanasia” and a [marble slab] sign that proclaimed, “Censored.”
The S.F. Examiner article created an uproar in the community. The story was followed by the Associated Press, local TV and radio, and many people wrote letters to the editor of the S.F. Examiner. Syntex Corporation’s stock even went down!
After the intervention of BALA (Bay Area Lawyers for the Arts), Worthington was granted a one person show at the art gallery of San Jose State University. “Euthanasia” was exhibited.
Cryptographic Self-Box # 13—Take A Look
In 1982, ”Cryptographic Self-Box # 13—Take A Look” was selected by the Western Association of Art Museums to travel throughout the United States to be exhibited in public spaces in the exhibit, “Forgotten Dimension…A Survey of Small Sculpture in CA Now”, 1982-84. The San Francisco International Airport refused to exhibit the artwork. The alleged reason for the censorship was that the airport “did not have an electric outlet for the artwork to be plugged into”. BALA (the Bay Area Lawyers for the Arts) took up the case and ”Cryptographic Self-Box # 13” resumed its rightful place in the exhibition.
Gateway to Hope
NANCY WORTHINGTON’S ARTWORK GATEWAY TO HOPE
CENSORED FROM BEIJING EXHIBIT
Worthington’s artwork “Gateway to Hope”, accepted into the International Women’s Artists Exhibition, Her Presence in Colours VIII-Beijing 2008, April 11-25 at the China National Art Gallery, was censored by the China National Censorship Board.
On March 25, 2008 I received an e-mail from The Conservatory of Fine Arts, sponsors of the Beijing Exhibit that my artwork “Gateway to Hope” was censored from the exhibition. (The artwork was accepted in October 2007.) I created this work specifically for the exhibition which is entitled “Dream of Peace”. I was told that “Gateway to Hope” was rejected because of its political context. Works by other artists which contained political content (opposition to the Iraq war, Palestinian-Israeli conflict) were left in the show. My belief is that “Gateway to Hope” was censored because it contained an image of the Statue of Liberty, which I used as a symbol of hope.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
SANTA ROSA. CALIFORNIA
THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2008
EYE OF THE CENSOR: Another local artist named Nancy favors a more political brand of expression. Sebastopol’s Nancy Worthington can be pointedly provocative. But she insists the piece she submitted to a current international exhibit in Beijing was intended simply as an expression of hope for friendship between the United States and China.
Shortly before the show opened at the China National Art Gallery, an e-mail informed her that censors had banned her piece because of its “political context.”
Worthington suspects that what set off the censors was her image of the Statue of Liberty, not a symbol communist China wants on display. Worthington’s sense is that instead of becoming more open in response to the international pressure being heaped on them in advance of the Olympics, Chinese authorities “are going in the opposite direction.”
In Post 9/11 America, just prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and at a time of
Strained French-American relations, Nancy Worthington was invited to exhibit a sculpture at the Alliance Française in San Francisco. She courageously exhibited the political/social commentary artwork “The Crossing” from her George Dubya series. Three days after the installation and just prior to the opening reception, The French Cultural Center removed it from the exhibit, censoring the artwork.
The Sunday February 24, 2003 New York Times on-line and in a full page story reported “In Trying To Avoid A controversy, French Center Creates One”.
The article set off an international debate on the issue of the censorship of art and freedom of expression. Ms. Worthington received over 40,000 hits to her website in one week—most in support of Ms. Worthington and against this censorship.
The uproar reached France where the leading newspaper in Paris, Le Monde, where, outraged that the Alliance Française in America would censor the artwork, interviewed Ms. Worthington on March 10.
“The Crossing” and Nancy Worthington’s “George Dubya series” continued to receive worldwide focus and support. In June 2003 The World of Art Magazine, Issue 6, Volume 3, Stockholm Sweden, featured an article about the censorship of “The Crossing” “The Terror Project”—“George Dubya” Art Censored from San Francisco Exhibit.”
Professor Jonah Raskin of the Communications Department of Sonoma State University interviewed Ms. Worthington and wrote a special article about “The Crossing” and the effects of censorship, to Discoveries, Sonoma West Times and News, June 11, 2003.
The World of Art Books in 2003 featured “The Crossing” and Nancy Worthington.
In December 2005, “The Crossing” was selected for its first U.S. exhibit since it was removed from the French Cultural Center.
Potentially Harmful: The Art of American Censorship at Georgia State University, January 10 — March 10, 2006: “Georgia State University announces the exhibition Potentially Harmful: The Art of American Censorship scheduled for early 2006 in the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design Gallery.” Funded by a major grant from the Andrew Warhol Foundation, and in the company of artists Lynda Benglis, Andres Serrano, and Robert Mapplethorpe,” the exhibit featured a 150 page catalog. Art historian Richard Meyer wrote a critical essay about “The Crossing”. “Moving beyond the shock factor of provocative art, we present art and ideas that may be viewed as controversial while encouraging an open dialogue about the vital role of freedom in creative expression,” says exhibition curator and gallery director Cathy Byrd.
“RED”, an allegorical romp though Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s frightening tale Little Red Cap (better known as Little Red Riding Hood). In my artwork, RED, the themes of deception, disguise, fear, intrigue, sexism, predator vs. prey, victor vs. vanquished, and the theme of rescue are now transformed to the 21st Century 2008 political landscape. Little Red Riding Hood is now Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama becomes the duality of both the Wolf and the Woodsman and Bill Clinton is the Mother/Grandmother.
Red, was “censored” from the “Banned and Recovered” Art Exhibit. Ms. Worthington was invited to create an artwork for this exhibit. The parameters were that the artist could create any work based on a censored book. She chose “Little Red Riding Hood”. The work would either be exhibited at the Oakland Public Library Gallery or at The Center for the Book in San Francisco. Since “Red” was a large artwork, the curator asked Ms. Worthington to deliver the piece to the much larger Oakland exhibition space, which could accommodate the work. A few days later, Worthington was informed that “Red” would not be exhibited in Oakland. Instead it was moved to the much smaller SF Center for The Book and placed behind an entry desk (away and separate from the art gallery). The art critics mentioned every artwork in the exhibit except for “Red”. (Ms. Worthington believes that these critics who previously loved her “George Dubya” political series deliberately ignored “Red”.) “Red” was excluded from the traveling “Banned and Recovered” exhibit, which followed the SF Bay Area showing. Why was Nancy Worthington’s Artwork, “Red” banned from the “Banned and Recovered” Art Exhibit?