Hi, ya’ll.  I have something I have been worrying over and have decided to write about it here.  I don’t often go on a ‘rant’, but, this is one of those things I just can’t ‘roll over and accept’, if you know what I mean.
I belong to a group that is dedicated to digital art.  It is where I have grown the most in my art.  Within this group are several sub-groups – separate groups for different types of challenges and interests.  These are designed to accommodate the artist in each of us.  There are Photoshop and Elements groups, for example.  We do ‘photo-manipulations’, following tutorials, often with a ‘starter’ image the challenge host has selected for us.  But, we aren’t limited to just a few challenges.  The folks there continuously ply their talent and post their amazing results in the gallery pages.  Recently, we even published a book of our favorite pieces.  (I’ll write on it later)
One of the groups is entitled the “Dark” group.  This group is for those who want to explore some of the ‘darker’ aspects of art.  The popular census there is that it feels good to be able to manipulate dark moods and to work with them.  Some even find it therapeutic.  But, more than anything, it challenges each of us to tackle a larger field of subject matter – including those areas that are not particularly ‘main-stream’ art.  Personally, I like macabre art.  I like being able to both, observe and express a concept with shapes, color and techniques.  It is one of the best ways of stepping outside of our box of usual comfort.  Art, to me, is an expression of one’s idea and emotions.  Topics that are traditionally ‘taboo’ are extremely difficult to maneuver, but, judging by the mass quantity of this type of art, it is one many folks venture into.  It gives us a way to deal with dark subjects in our own way.  By creating a bizarre piece, I think some feel we have mastered that feeling, that emotion, the best that we could.  This has been suggested by several members of said group.   The art that has been created has been one awe-inspiring moment after another!
Recently, with Valentine’s Day coming up, one of the challenges featured an image of a bloody model.
Gunshot Wound 5 by mouthofmaggotsstock.deviantart
  The image came from DeviantArt, one of the stock suppliers, mouthofmaggotsstock.  The title of the theme was “Valentine’s Massacre”.   As usual, we are free to interpret the image any way we wish.  I immediately thought of scorned love, being ‘dumped’, and all that miserable stuff that is so devastating to us in our lives.  I would never think of acting on such feelings, but, I looked forward to be able to manipulate the image to satisfy some of my feelings.  Simple.  Right?
Not!  One of the members saw the image and got upset.  After admonishing the rest of us for “want(ing) to play and have fun with” the image, this person left the group completely.  Gone!  Bye-bye! This person reminded us all that, “The world is sick enough without people glorifying murder and what mentally unbalanced people do”.  Subsequently, the site owner removed the entire challenge thread from the group pages.   Now, it feels like everyone is walking on egg shells.
Here is where I feel I must take a stand, in defense, on the issue of artists creating dark art, in a “private” group entitled “Dark” challenge, and not in the mainstream, for the purpose of honing one’s craft and exploring different of emotions in art.  What ever happened to “freedom of expression”?  What became of my right to participate?  Why should I, and the other members, be censored and not allowed to participate?
I have to put myself in the position of the owner of this group site.  I don’t know that I wouldn’t have done the same thing.  I am not sure, really.  Due to the fact that enrollment in the sub-group is totally up to the individual, I feel that if someone does not want this sort of challenge, there is another way out:
Evidently, this is what the dissatisfied member did.  Why could it have not been left at that?  Why did this person feel the need to insult the others for their interest in a certain topic for art?  Why could this member not see that this was an exercise, not a forcing of an ideal on us?  I don’t understand why all the drama had to get tossed in there!  This group isn’t Joe Doe’s Dark Challenge!  It is for anyone, and everyone, who desires it.  Don’t desire it, click on the “leave Group” button.  Or, better, still, close the challenge thread and move on to something else!  That is all this person had to do!  Don’t drag everyone else down, slap them in the face, then haul ass!
I haven’t overlooked the possibility that this person may have had a reality of their own which was aggravated by this bloody model image.  It happens!  There may have been an incident in their life for which this image brought back bad memories.  I hope not, but, if so, I am very sorry for that. But, leaving quietly would have worked, too.  Personally, I feel that the owner was blackmailed, emotionally, for something that was totally the individual’s design.  They don’t like “shock art”, so, no one else should.  If the person was still around, it would be one thing.  But, they’re gone.

Now, we are a group, with one less member, no bloody model challenge to work/play with and everyone nervous as hell.  I had already downloaded the model’s image and done quite a bit with it.  I had been exploring the drama that might come with a tangled web of deceit and crime in a couple’s relationship.  I don’t live in that kind of world, but, get a glimpse of it through the different media.  I won’t say I’m curious because I don’t ever want to go there.  But, like love, sadness and any other emotion, this ‘dark’ look into another aspect of humanity is a reality.  My reality!  My image is my reality.  It may only be an imaginary reality, but, one I created.  Thus, I feel that I have risen above some of the low, dark feelings that frighten me.  I have come more to grips with the gore and horror.  And, I honed some blending techniques in doing so!

The day after this incident, after much conversation among the remaining members, the sub-group was not closed.  Instead, another challenge was put in the place of the deleted one.  A much less controversial topic was chosen with a new image – a chocolate Easter rabbit.  From “Valentine’s Massacre” to “Valentine’s Chocolate Massacre”, the owner did her very best to satisfy the rest of us with a ‘similar’ challenge.  Along with the new challenge came the request that, if we wanted to post any of our art, involving the bloody model, we should post it in the group pages only.  (Usually, we post them to a “gallery”, which may be viewed by anyone, even outside the ‘dark’ group.)  I so understand the owner’s position on this.  But, I have to add this, if we are going to be censored with our art work, perhaps, another group would be the answer.  I don’t want to worry that someone by be offended.  It isn’t that I want to go crazy on all the gross stuff in this world.  But, if we start drawing lines, where do those lines stop?  That member didn’t like a bloody model image.  What if the next one has a fear of rabbits? 

Censorship is, to me, like a cancer, given the wrong application.  Do you walk into a horror flick and demand they turn it off because it scares just you?  The people in this group came to it of their own free will and joined.  It was called the “Dark” challenge all along – it didn’t change.  So, in my opinion, if the member finds they don’t like what is happening in the group, they need to leave.  Don’t force your will on everyone else with insulting comments, then, like a chicken, leave.

No body asked me, but, if they did, I would suggest starting another, brand new group for our dark art.  BUT, the members should have to agree that they understand the dark part before they can join!  We do it every day!  Blogger, itself, has adult controls that they employ here.  We have to “agree” every time we

SU CheshireCat

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