Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Virginia Teacher Suspended for Painting With Butt

RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia school district has suspended an art teacher who they say may be setting a bad example for students with his own extracurricular activity — butt painting.

Stephen Murmer, a self-described "butt-printing artist," was placed on administrative leave Friday by the Chesterfield County school district.

Going by the name Stan Murmur, the teacher sells floral and abstract paintings that he calls "anthropometric monotypes" created by plastering his rump and genitals in paint and pressing them against a canvas. His paintings sell online for upwards of $900.

"I am certainly proud of the ass painting," Stan Murmur said on a "Unscrewed With Martin Sargent" clip downloaded by Wednesday on YouTube. "I do have a real job where I do have real clients, and I don't think they'd be too understanding if I was also the guy that painted with my ass."

In the clip, Murmur appeared wearing only a black thong and "Groucho" glasses to demonstrate a style of painting he learned in college.

"I followed a girlfriend into a painting and printmaking class," he told host Sargent in the clip. "We had an assignment where we had to create an organic stamping object, bring it in as a print and display it to the class. I chose my ass as that object."

Murmer is known as a popular, joke-cracking art teacher at Monacan High School in Virginia.

Chesterfield County schools spokeswoman Debra Marlow says school system regulations state that teachers must set an example for students through their personal conduct.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia says the suspension goes against Murmer's First Amendment rights.'s Sara Bonisteel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

I mentioned this guy’s work and directed readers to his website link, maybe last spring. Unfortunately, it looks like people are once again forced to sell their individuality and personal lives when they choose to sign a $20k/year teaching contract. While I may not be a fan of “butt-painting”, I do appreciate the fact that his wages are most likely below the poverty level and he has found a way to supplement. When I taught, I knew a numbers of fellow teachers that worked in liquor stores or bars to make extra cash. I wonder if he would have lost his job, if he painted classical European nudes. I remember a student that refused to use an art history text because she found works inside offensive (the specific pieces were by Donatello). Where is the obscenity line drawn in the sand? Who holds the stick of power and judgment? – DN


Nicholas Wineman said...

setting aside the censorship, I'm sorry, but I believe there's creativity and there's stupidity. Me and a friend google'd the guy stiff and it was terrible kindergarten stuff. it only sells because his ass touches it which is feels like a gimmick rather than creativity. said...

But at what moment does one decide to set aside censorship... and who is that person? - DN

Nicholas Wineman said...

don't get me wrong. as long as the artist isn't flailing his privates around at his classroom, I really don't think it's necessary to dismiss him. We have wierder people here in my school. I was talking more about how worthless the man was as an artist

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the guys work but let's not discount it because it's done with his body. A lot of artists have used their body in their artwork. Look at Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik. Here's a tidbit I read online :
Beuys’ work is similar to his contemporary Nam June Paik’s ‘Zen for Head’ of 1962, in which Paik dips his head into a large bowl of ink and tomato juice and uses it to paint a line down a long sheet of paper. “Paik parodies the notion of meditative art-making by physically enacting a painting gesture using the body as a tool rather than the repository of mental and spiritual processes.”[9] The head is relieved of its duty as seat of rational analysis and becomes a tool no more or less worthy than say, a hand. The overly-intellectual mind is allowed to become integrated once more with the body, feeling and doing as worthy as thinking.
Look at Yves Klein (
But I get your point D, it's not about is this guy a not worthy artists, it's who draws the line and says what is what.