RFH Students Examine “Art, Censorship, and Violence”

February 6th, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 23, 2015



RFH Students Examine “Art, Censorship, and Violence”

RFH English teacher Erin Burke (left) leads a discussion as Art teacher Kate Okeson (center) looks on during Art, Censorship, and Violence Seminar.


Rumson — A group of students from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School recently attended a current events seminar entitled “Art, Censorship, and Violence.”

The seminar, held in the RFH library on the afternoon of January 13 during ninth period study hall, was organized and hosted by RFH English teachers Erin Burke and Dana Maulshagen, Social Studies teacher Tom Highton,and Art teacher Kate Okeson.  Social Studies teacher Mike Emmich also helped organize the seminar.

Attendance was voluntary and over 25 students chose to participate.

“Sometimes certain events occur and they really make you think about what you are doing at school and in your daily life,”Okeson told the assembled students. “We are hoping that this is just the start of a series of conversations we can have about what ‘plays out’ as a result of current events.”

To begin the seminar, Okeson read aloud from a packet provided to each participating student containing informational articles, links, and questions to spark discussion. The students then engaged in a conversation about “Art, Censorship, and Violence”. They examined the issue from both philosophical and historical perspectives,as well as in the context of recent global occurrences — including the massacre of 12 staffers at the Paris headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7.

Among thetopics addressed were the ways in which laws of certain cultures and religions can be misconstrued, whether anyone has the right to prevent any type of artist from displaying complete creative expression, and the many interpretations of “freedom of speech” as stated in the U.S. Constitution.

The students grappled with questions ranging from “Does censorship promote ignorance?” to “Is freedom of expression always a good thing?”

“It is always a good idea to put yourself in the mindset of the people creating art, and to have an open mind toward other peoples’ perspectives as well as your own,” said sophomore Rachel Makstein. “That might be a way to more fully understand creativity and censorship and other peoples’ motives.”

The teachers were pleased by the turnout as well as the results of the seminar and hope to plan similar events.

“I think that events like the one in Paris regarding censorship and violence can cause us to question ourselves,” Burke told the students. “But they also spark discussions like these, in which we are asking difficult questions such as ‘what is truly important for us to experience and be aware of?’”

“I think we have all learned a lot from one another today, and I hope we can have more discussions like this in the future.”


Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Press Release Writer

mkampfe@rumsonfairhaven.org or 908-347-8885