click to enlarge Censored
Michelle Hartney
letter removed from “Unplanned Parenthood” display

Something was missing when “Unconditional Care,” an exhibition about women’s health, opened at Lewis-Clark State College’s Center for Arts & History last week.

Several somethings, actually.

Citing Idaho’s No Public Funds for Abortion Act, the college omitted all work by artist Lydia Nobles, including three videos and an audio recording, and portions of displays by Katrina Majkut and Michelle Hartney, according to Majkut, who also curated the exhibit.

Patrons attending the exhibit’s opening reception Friday, March 3, evening appeared to be unaware of the censorship, but a letter issued the same day by the American Civil Liberties Union and National Coalition Against Censorship changed that.

The letter, emailed Friday to LCSC President Cynthia Pemberton with Center for History Director Emily Johnsen copied, asks for Nobles’ work to be returned to the exhibit, citing her right to free expression:

“The College’s decision threatens this bedrock First Amendment principle by censoring Nobles’ important work and denying visitors of the Center the opportunity to view, consider, and discuss it,” its authors state.

Katrina Majkut
cross-stitch of medical abortion pills, edited labels

Nobles’ portion of the exhibit included interviews with women about their experiences with reproductive health care, including abortions, in a series called “As I Sit Waiting.”

“There’s censorship of art,” said Majkut, who invited Nobles to participate in the exhibition. “When you take Lydia's work down, you're also censoring people’s personal stories. People are not allowed to be heard.”

Elizabeth Larison, director of the New York-based National Coalition Against Censorship’s Arts and Culture Advocacy Program, called the college’s actions “deeply alarming.”

“For us, this is a very scary precedent that might be set should this hold or not be questioned,” Larison said Tuesday, March 7, in a phone interview. “To foreclose or criminalize discussions of abortions … that’s very troubling.”

As of print time for this publication, the artists had not received a response from the college about whether their censored works would be added to the exhibition before it closes April 23.

Stone (she/her) can be reached at mstone@inland360.com.


As I Sit Waiting videos: