The body of work references the seven deadly sins and is composed of seven photos printed on canvas and hung in frames. The photos depict nude female students without showing their faces and explore the themes of the human body, religion and sexuality.
The work was supposed to be displayed alongside other student works in the campus gallery, but instead the photos will be located in a mobile gallery starting on Nov. 21, opening night, before being moved off campus.
The other students’ work will be displayed in the primary gallery and will be available for the rest of the semester. The photos do not depict obscenity or pornography.
“For a university dedicated to nurturing the inner and intellectual lives of its students, censoring artworks over their depiction of nudes is especially concerning,” wrote Joy Garnett of NCAC in the letter to Pepperdine’s president, Jim Gash. “By quarantining and then removing these works, the university runs afoul of its mission to nurture the creative and intellectual wellbeing of its students and the core values of academic freedom. The response to art displayed on a college campus should be the same as the response to ideas voiced in the classroom: discussion and debate, not censorship.”
Pepperdine is a Christian university in Malibu, Calif., with 7,300 undergraduate students; it was founded in 1937. Pepperdine did not respond to request for comment.