A Fan of Rodin (Or How I Was Nearly Suspended From High School)

I've always been a fan of Rodin (even though he nearly got me suspended from high school*) and few experiences are as visceral for me as pacing slowing around one of his sculptures, trying to take in every gentle angle. When I read that Philadelphia was home to "the largest collection of Rodin's works outside Paris, including bronze castings, plaster studies, drawings, prints, letters, and books..." I was thrilled. I've been to the Rodin museum in France and it was an incredible experience. While it is small in scale, the collection at Philadelphia's Rodin Museum packs a punch. They've made excellent choices. Here are a few of my favorites.

The next two are "The Hand of God" (back-view then front-view) and it's one of his more breathtaking and intimate pieces.

* I was the editor of the opinion page of my high school newspaper when Brigham Young University announced they would be hosting a traveling Rodin exhibit. I was really looking forward to it...but soon found out that several pieces would remain locked in crates in the basement of the museum because they were "pornographic." I had a fit. I printed a special edition of the opinion page and ran a three-page op ed piece raging against The Machine that is Utah County. I was livid in the name of art and freedom of expression, against a culture that cloisters and stifles sexuality, and because I wouldn't be able to see Saint John the Baptist Preaching, among other master works.

About two days after the edition was printed, I was called into the Principal's office and sternly lectured by a number of staff members and instructors. I was informed that the administration was tired of fielding calls from outraged parents and horrified grannies. They never did articulate why, precisely, I was in trouble; but they did "recommend" that were I to "take a bit of time off" that might "help things blow over." I wasn't having that at all so we renegotiated the terms. Ultimately I was never suspended, but I also never ran three-page editorials of the likes of the "Don't Ban Rodin" magnum opus.

Sweet, sweet paradox: I was valedictorian and spoke at graduation on the campus of Brigham Young University.

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