Artist: James Bostick and Steve Johnson
Confronting Bodies: Marietta Restoration Associates and Borough officials
Date of Action: 1994
Specific Location: Marietta, Pennsylvania
Description of Artwork: James Bostick's photo exhibit, "Post-Modern Metamorphoses," is a series of photographs depicting staged mythological or religious events based on well-known paintings, such as Guido Reni's "Saint Sebastian" and Felix Trutat's "The Reclining Bacchante." Bostick shows cupid armed with a shotgun, a woman looking into a TV screen instead of a mirror and Saint Sebastian pierced by video cameras instead of arrows. Steve Johnson's black and white photographs depict androgynous or obscured male nudes, contrasting youthful appearance and loss of innocence.
Description of Incident: Bostick and Johnson's works were part of the "Second Annual Juried Photography Exhibition," sponsored by the Marietta Restoration Associates. Bostick was awarded first prize for his photographs. During the contest a member of the Marietta Restoration Association's board of directors, Jeanine Hill, objected to Bostick and Johnson's work, claiming that the nude imagery was inappropriate for public display. The Marietta Borough Mayor, Oliver Overlander, gave Hill's husband permission to lock the entrance to the exhibit, and placed police outside of the hall while Johnson and Bostick's piece were removed and brought to the police station. The board of directors stripped Bostick of his prizes.
Results of Incident: The artists contacted the ACLU and filed suit against the Marietta Restoration Associates and the Borough of Marietta. The artists sought a reinstatement of their awards and the organization of a new exhibit for their works.
Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack, 1995
Submitted By: NCAC