To the Editor of the Times Herald Record

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To the Editor of the Times Herald Record

From Loretta Palma

Published before 2005

Dear Editor:

I was channel flipping on Friday night when I happened onto the Geraldo show and saw the segment on the firing of the Art Teacher at Middletown HS, Mr. Panse. I am an Arts in Education Teacher myself and I was as shocked as the Fisher family that this has been allowed to happen.

This teacher did not propose having a nude drawing class in the school, or starting one for themselves. His suggestion to his advanced art class was specifically to prepare them for the professional reviews they are about to experience in order to get into a good college or art school. His suggestion was not sexual or prurient but practical. Anyone who knows, as he does, what art professionals are looking for during a portfolio review, knows that figure drawing is absolutely required. He also knows that it is not available in the Middletown area and was only instructing his advanced class that if they are serious about getting into an art program at a major college or university, they had to have these drawings in their portfolio and they had better be the real thing and well done. He was simply educating them. He was giving them instruction from his knowledge of how things work in the real world.

It seems the school board in Middletown is not aware of how things work in the real world nor are the ignorant people who complained about this in the first place. If they don’t want their children seeking out a figure drawing class, then they should not allow their children to do that. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher not only approved of this advice, but sought out a class in figure drawing for their daughter Reanna. Her work, as displayed on the show and on the website, shows that she has genuine talent and has gained enormous skill from the figure drawing classes she took.

I doubt anyone on the school board would disagree the Michelangelo is a great Renaissance painter. He had the same problem Reanna was having, only his obstacle was the Catholic Church. The Church would not allow naked figure drawing as they thought it was immoral. Michelangelo was forced to steal cadavers from the local morgue to study the human form and anyone who has ever seen his David or his Pietà can tell he knew how to draw the human form, beautifully. Have we not come any further than the Dark Ages when it comes to our view of the human body as a thing of beauty and not an object of lust? Clearly, not so for the Middletown school board.

This is appalling and I can only hope Mr. Panse is returned to his position as Art Teacher. Not only for his sake and the sake of his family, but for the hundreds of art students who deserve to be well prepared and taught professionally in our school system.

Loretta Palma