A town decided it would like a glass sculpture erected in its Town Hall. They reached out to a renowned glass artist and asked her to visit and create something large that would reside in the giant rotunda. The artist came to the town and did numerous sketches then returned to her workshop. She returned a few months later and unveiled a giant purple iris.
“It is beautiful!” The Mayor says immediately and most of the city council agrees with him.
“I wouldn’t have picked purple.” One councilwoman says. “Purple is a color associated with females. We are trying to be an inclusionary community and your work is sexist and excludes males.”
The artist explains that she chose purple because the banks of the river that runs beside the town are covered with purple irises and she thought it was a beautiful symbol of the town but people began to be worried that men would feel excluded by the purple statue. They all agreed that the iris was nice but the purple was a poor choice.
The artist returned to her workshop and created a new iris. When she unveiled it a few months later several council people clapped with joy at seeing the black iris.
“Don’t you think that’s racist? We cannot have a black or white iris! The brown people of our community deserve representation.” Says a man getting angrier with every word he says.
The artist explains the iris was not about race but about a juxtaposition of color (black) and nature (iris) and that if he looks closely he will see veins of red. The mayor tells her the black has got to go.
Two months pass and the artist returns with an iris that is multiple colors thinking this will appease everyone.
“I am wondering why we have to have an iris. In art, the iris has long been associated with the vagina. It is an affront to people who aren’t cis females to force them to see a representation of a vagina in their Town Hall.” One councilwoman says.
“Oh, you are right Beverly! I wouldn’t want people to know I have a vagina! Or think about my vagina. If they thought about my vagina they may think inappropriately about it.” Another woman chimes in.
“Constance you have 7 children. Everyone knows you have a vagina.” Another person says. “As someone born male who associates as a female, I don’t find the iris offensive. There are irises all over town. It seems like a natural representation of the town.”
“Do you want to speak for all people? Do you want that responsibility?” Demands the first woman who questioned the iris initially.
The artist left and returned a week later. The new glass piece was a clear sphere that looked slightly flattened in the middle. No one says anything for several minutes.
Finally, the Mayor says, “It’s boring.”
The artist shrugs and nods her head. “It is exactly what you wanted. The color can’t offend anyone. I even flattened it so the shape didn’t resemble a testicle so that wouldn’t upset anyone. Enjoy your dull and boring art.”The Glass Sculpture