A University of Colorado art student learned art moves people. It’s the same information a young cleaning business executive knew and used to his advantage years ago. The difference is the student didn’t like her results.
Don Aslett, a cleaning expert, author and CEO of his own business, was tired of undue wait times in hotel lobbies and at other service counters, so he devised a plan. He made his attaché case look like something he cleaned, a toilet. Not only was his case a business visual, it helped get him faster service. When waits got long, he would simply sit on his attaché case. Hotel clerks and the like responded by getting Aslett on his way quickly.
When Aslett spoke at a women’s conference of the Boulder Colorado Stake in the early 1980s where he told this story, no one cried “censorship.” Aslett, obviously, was working the rules of public decorum to his advantage. Clarissa Peppers, a CU art student, did the same to gain notoriety.
Peppers knew her works had shock value. She focused on the vagina, a part of the female body she said certain people may see as having a singular use. When CU’s Department of Art & History moved the display to the VAC’s basement and later allowed it back to the lobby with a floor-to-ceiling curtain and warning signs to finish its normal run, she cried censorship.
Not so. Peppers was still able to make the works and still able to display them. What she didn’t want, apparently, was for people to have a choice of whether to view her works. She set them up early in the morning on Dec. 3 in the lobby of the Visual Arts Complex. Everyone entering there would have seen her works unless their noses were in their books.
Thanks to those who complained when they were offended. Also, thanks to Kirk Ambrose, chair of CU’s Department of Art & History. He needs to know his actions were not only correct but welcomed. As a guide, CU should draft and adopt a policy giving people the respect to choose what images go into their brains when rules of decorum will be violated. It’s the right thing to do.