Light the Way … to What?

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Almost 3 centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin founded one of America’s first lending libraries with the express outcome of “…hav[ing] improved the general Conversation of Americans.”

In our modern version of libraries, it’s still worthwhile to ask what they may or may not be improving.  Take for example an upcoming event at Coeur d’Alene library: “Arty Afternoons” for kids led by local artists.  On its face, it seems to be at least a fun and harmless way to spend a few hours.  According to the library’s event registration, this event is for kids 12+.  At this age, parents are likely comfortable enough to drop kids off at the local library.  But, what and who are they entrusting their children to? 

When Michael Priest, Cd’A Library’s Director, was asked about this event, he sent the following reply: “We therefore leave it to parents and guardians of minors aged between 12-17 to decide whether the program is appropriate for their family members to attend.”

Very well, the following information is presented as an aid so parents can decide whether they believe this event will benefit their children. 

The September 26, 2023 edition of “Arty Afternoons” will be led by recently-relocated artist Abby Light. 

Who is Abby Light and what qualifies her to lead an art workshop for kids? As Michael Priest indicates, the reader can decide:

Parents, and other readers, can browse the artist’s website here – Abby Light, and can review years’ worth of the artist’s portfolio on her Instagram page.

From Abby Light’s Instagram, 2017
Portfolio of Artwork by Abby Light

In the portfolio link above, under the photo of the artist in witch’s garb is a painting entitled Witches’ Sabbath. Parents can learn more about the painting here – Witches’ Sabbath (Goya, 1798).

According to Ms. Light’s resume, “Facilitating Art For Social Change, Antyx Community Arts, Calgary, AB, 2017” is listed under the Awards & Certification section in addition to being a Youth Facilitator there from 2016-2017. 

So, what social changes might Abby Light have in mind for the kids who attend a Coeur d’Alene art workshop at a taxpayer-funded library?

This writer believes that in light of Ms. Light’s vulgar, witch-themed adult portfolio, the choice to have her be responsible for leading a workshop for minors is questionable at best and wholly-inappropriate at worst.  Kids who attend this event are old enough to think to ask to see examples of Ms. Light’s work.  Even elementary school kids know how to Google and what could be easier for them to find than getting to Ms. Light’s confusing, offensive, and graphic portfolio via a search by her name?

How would a parent know whether Ms. Light might bring some of these examples to show to minors?  The question was asked to the library director Michael Priest but was unanswered. 

When it was suggested that Cd’A Library reconsider having Ms. Light lead this workshop, that suggestion was declined.

As a parent, what light do you want guiding your children?  Would Abby Light be suitable in that regard?  In light of Coeur d’Alene’s recent selections for this same age group of kids as depicted by their recent book displays, it’s fair to ask if the Cd’A Library is making appropriate decisions about what to offer kids.  Many examples are posted at this website which illustrate a small sample: Clean Books 4 Kids 

Some assert, “If you don’t want your kids to attend, don’t let them.”  It’s inarguably a parent’s responsibility to make informed decisions about their children.  Free speech and its first amendment protections certainly entitle Ms. Light to create and sell whatever she may call “art.” However, exposing minors to adult-themed “art” is not protected according to Idaho Statute 1815-13.

Benjamin Franklin was flawed indeed, but his vision of libraries – to be a source of illumination – surely did not include being a source of crude hyper-sexualization for kids.  A workshop for kids led by Abby Light would instead be a dark cloud over the beautiful Coeur d’Alene library.