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Controversial Statue In OP Raises Questions About Nudity In Art

Julie Denesha

A conversation about nudity in art and how to talk to children about it with curator Robert Cohon and educator Adam Johnson of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, artist and curator Karen Matheis and callers.

The Overland ParkArboretum and Botanical Gardens has been home to a statue called Accept or Reject by Chinese sculptor Yu Chang since the fall of 2011. It's a bronze, mostly nude, headless sculpture of a woman taking a photograph of herself.

In 2012, a local mother began a petition drive to remove the sculpture.  She thought it was inappropriate for a place children frequented, and that it promoted "sexting."

The American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri took up the cause and collected about 5000 signatures in Johnson County on a petition calling to remove the statue from the park. But after a one day trial, the petition failed to secure an indictment from a grand jury.  

American Family Association spokesman Phillip Cosby said Johnson County District attorney Steve Howe rushed the trial and called no witnesses.

Cosby then joined forces with abortion opponents to change grand jury laws in Kansas. The new law requires that the petition filers be allowed to address the grand jury. Cosby hopes this will give him a new chance to explain the petition to the grand jury and provide expert testimony.

The Kansas City Star reports that the new law is opposed by the state district attorneys' association because they feel it will politicize the process by letting petitioners impose themselves on the grand jury.

Cosby launches a new petition for a grand jury hearing today. To seat a grand jury, petition gatherers must secure enough signatures to equal 2 percent of the votes cast in the county's last gubernatorial election plus 100, in Johnson County that comes to 3,771 signatures.


Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.
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