Grantleigh Curro’s controversial art exhibition on the relationship between money and religion has been taken down in the wake of an outcry that it was “demonical”, the man who complained about it says.
The school did not respond to queries for confirmation of this, but Pastor Andrew Anderson said he was happy after attending a meeting at the school: “I am so glad.”
“I think it’s from all the pressure, and all the unity of the Christian people sticking together, for these things to come down.”
On Tuesday, Anderson called for a protest and for prospective parents to refrain from sending their children to the Christianity-based school.
“My God is no clown,” said a choked up Anderson as he filmed the work at the school near Richards Bay.
“It felt like we were crucifying Jesus all over again,” said the Ballito Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) pastor.
He was particularly upset by the pupils’ interpretation of religious paintings and art, such Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”, in which Jesus was portrayed as a clown and dollar signs were on a lintel behind him.
Torn pieces of excerpts of one of the Bible’s books, Chronicles, were pasted on a sculpture.
This almost had him in tears.
READ | ‘My God is no clown’ – Pastor fumes over ‘demonic’ art project at Curro school
Anderson praised the school for the quick response to the controversy, which had elicited angry comments from upset Christians.
Other comments were mixed with praise for the high artistic standard of the work, but objections to the message.
Others complimented the pupil and the school for the critical thinking involved in the work, and its role in discussing money and organised religion.
Anderson said there were two things he was aiming for: That the school admits it pushed the boundary and crossed its ethos of “to God be the Glory”; and that it makes a statement that this will never happen again.
“They realised they made a mistake. They realised this was not right,” he said.
In a statement, the school apologised for offending anybody.
“Curro extends an unreserved apology to all those community members who have been affected and offended by the artwork in question. We urge the community to support Curro, Grantleigh and its leadership in their sincere and determined efforts to ensure that we continue to offer the best quality education to every learner under our care.”
It said that following an internal investigation, Curro determined that the duty of care and guidance offered to the learner did not always adequately address the underlying issues and potential implications of producing a visual art piece, the content of which was controversial and likely to stir emotive responses.
“It is also important that art is subjective and open to interpretation; art encourages people to voice an opinion, either for or against the work in question,” it stated.
It noted that the Independent Examination Board (IEB) confirmed that an independent examiner already examined the exhibition and found it to comply, in every respect, with the examination brief and IEB academic standards. It was not reported as problematic to the IEB.
The school body acknowledged that the content of the artwork was controversial and likely to stir emotive responses.
“It is also important that art is subjective and open to interpretation; art encourages people to voice an opinion either for or against the work in question,” the statement read.
The school “reaffirmed” its commitment to the Constitutional right of every individual with respect to their religious belief, race or ethnicity, gender orientation.
It would actively include this as part of their ongoing good practice as an institution of learning and to rigorously avoid any action that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
Money, blind faith
The matric artist has also seemingly responded to the outcry, Parent24 reported, with a statement explaining the context of the work, and asking that “before anyone speak, they perhaps think”, adding that “I cannot damage that which has already been shattered.”
News24 is working on verifying the contents of the statement through the school.
The Zululand Observer reported that the pupil explained the artwork “demonstrates organised religion’s preoccupation with making money and its exploitation of those with blind faith”.
It reported that he said one of the pieces was symbolic of the lack of choice children have when they are born into and raised in a particular faith.
Anderson was told that it had been displayed due to a “lack of knowledge” about the content, and that everybody was too afraid to speak out before he made his video plea.
There was an agreement that in the future, religious content in art would still be allowed, but it had to be positive and in line with the school’s ethos of “to God be the glory”.
Anderson felt that “that barrier cannot be crossed”, and wanted religion to be used in a positive way.
He said freedom of expression was important, but it needed to be framed within the context of the school’s ethos.
He said the art teacher was new at the school, which may have contributed to a “lack of knowledge” about “Satanism” and Satanic imagery.
News24 will update the story if the school issues further information later on Wednesday.