In a lesson about controversial art, a substitute art teacher told eighth graders that some viewers see “vaginas” in Georgia O’Keeffe‘s paintings, reports the Detroit Free Press. Allison Wint was fired by Harper Creek Middle School for . . . Saying the word “vagina?”
Wint remembers saying: “Imagine walking into a gallery when (O’Keeffe) was first showing her pieces, and thinking, ‘Am I actually seeing vaginas here, am I a pervert?’ ”
Through the course of the lecture, she went on to use the word vagina “maybe 10 times,” she said. “But it was never in a vulgar capacity.”
I thought if I used a euphemism, that would make it into a joke,” she said.
School officials initially said teachers must get approval before discussing reproductive health, reports WWMT-TV.
Then, Harper Creek Superintendent Rob Ridgeway told the Free Press that Wint was fired for deviating from the art curriculum and not warning the principal that she’d be discussing controversy in art. “She was not terminated due to uttering the word ‘vagina,’ ” he said.
However, Principal Kim Thayer told the Free Press that Wint had used the word “vagina … without previous approval.”
Thayer fired Wint on Friday, giving her one hour to gather her things and leave the school.
“It now seems abundantly clear that, in spite of her vehement denials, O’Keeffe meant some of her paintings (not just the flowers) to look vaginal,” writes Randall Griffin, an art history professor who’s authored a book on the artist. “Works such as Abstraction Seaweed and Water – Maine and Flower Abstraction overtly allude to female genitalia.”