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FLORIDA (FINALLY) DEEMS MICHELANGELO'S 'DAVID A WORK OF 'ARTISTIC VALUE'

MICHELANGELO'S 'DAVID'

Visitors flocked to see Michelangelo’s David sculpture in Florence on Tuesday, following an uproar over a Florida school’s decision to force the resignation of the principal over complaints about a lesson featuring the Renaissance masterpiece.

Tourists, many of them Americans on spring break or studying abroad, posed for selfies in front of the giant marble statue, which features the Biblical David, naked with a sling over his shoulder and a rock in his hand, ready for battle with Goliath.

Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses the sculpture, reopened Tuesday after its weekly Monday closure, and both tourists and locals alike couldn’t get over the controversy.

“It’s part of history,” said Isabele Joles from Ohio, who is studying French and Italian art with her school group. “I don’t understand how you can say it’s porn.”

She and other visitors were reacting to the decision by Tallahassee Classical School board to pressure Principal Hope Carrasquilla to resign last week after an image of the David was shown to a sixth-grade art class.

DAVID VIA THE SMITHSONIAN

Ric Ergenbright/CORBIS

Carrasquilla believes the board targeted her after three parents complained because they weren’t notified in advance that a nude image would be shown, while a third called the iconic statue, which is considered the height of Renaissance sculpture, pornographic. The school has a policy requiring parents to be notified in advance about “controversial” topics being taught.

Over the weekend, both Florence’s mayor and the museum director voiced incredulity over the ruckus and issued invitations for the ousted principal and the school community to come and see the sculpture for themselves.

“We are talking about the roots of Western culture, and ‘David’ is the height, the height of beauty,” museum director Cecilie Hollberg said in an interview Tuesday, as tourists brushed past her snapping selfies with the statue.

The controversy wasn’t only a topic of conversation in Florence. On Monday night in Tallahassee, a large crowd showed up for a school board meeting with public comment on the issue of the David statue controversy lasting over an hour, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. Some parents and teachers criticized the board and even asked chairman Barney Bishop to step aside.

“Given the dissatisfaction of all these parents with your leadership, would you be willing to lead us by integrity by resigning?” asked teacher Ben Steigner."

 

Bishop, however, declined to resign, stating his intention to remain as chairman through the end of his term in May and serve an additional year on the board. The five trustees are elected by themselves, not by parents, and serve three-year terms. New Principal Cara Wynn informed the school board that nine students had left the school since the David controversy erupted, while three new students had enrolled.

Tallahassee Classical is a charter school, taxpayer-funded and tuition-free, offering an alternative to the public school curriculum. The three-year-old institution, now on its third principal, serves 400 students from kindergarten through 12th grade, following a curriculum designed by Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan often consulted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on educational matters.

However, the Florida Department of Education has distanced itself from the controversy, stating, "The Statue of David has artistic and historical value. Florida encourages instruction on the classics and classical art, and would not prohibit its use in instruction." The department views the matter at Tallahassee Classical School as an internal issue, unrelated to state rule or law.

Meanwhile, at the museum on Tuesday, Seattle tourist Brian Stapley expressed sympathy for the affected students: "It's one of the most incredible parts of our history. I feel incredibly sorry for the children that don't get to see it."

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