Controversial public art -- just nude or crude?

Controversial public art -- just nude or crude? »Play Video
BURIEN, Wash. -- Controversy is surrounding a new sculpture at the Burien/Interim Arts Space.

The bronzed piece is of a squatting, nude woman, and it leaves little to the imagination, according to concerned parents.

"Just cover it up a little bit. Too much parts showing for the little kids," said parent Amy Sankey.

Anybody can walk through the privately-owned art space at Fifth Avenue SW and SW 150th Street. And for some, that's an issue, especially with a new library right next door.

"I don't want my kids around it," said parent Jole Sankey. "My 8 year old doesn't need to be exposed to it. I don't even want my 14-year-old son to be exposed to it."

The controversial piece is by Seattle artist Michael McGrath. Until a few weeks ago, the sculpture sat in an art gallery.

The artist challenges the idea that his work is not kid-friendly. He contends things kids see on television, in magazines and on the Internet are much worse than what they see on his sculpture.

"The kids are seeing - anywhere - every kind of expression of the body, nude, semi-nude, positions in a sense that are, if I can say the word, sexualized. This figure is intentionally non-sexualized.

The artist said he's looking to inspire, he said, not divide.

"It is not my intent to generate controversy with this piece in the least," he said. "I'm happy people are taking about, because that's what I'm hoping people will do."

And McGrath's art does have its fans.

"Beautiful art," said Mike Firman. "It looks real, realistic. I don't have any problem with that. It's a statue."

The two people who oversee the outdoor space say those who don't want to see the naked sculpture should just avoid the park altogether.

For both supporters and opponents alike, McGrath's work appears to be a provocateur doing what some say art should do: spark emotions.