"Butt Artist Trial is Set" was the actual headline of the article at the link below, which informs us that a motion to dismiss Stephen Murmer’s lawsuit against his former employer was denied on February 15. Murmer, you may recall, is the teacher who was fired when his school district learned that, in his spare time, Murmer is an artist who paints things with his butt.
According to Murmer’s complaint, the district had been aware of his technique since 2004, but the paint hit the fan in 2007 when the students learned about it. Murmer had at some point appeared on a TV show to demonstrate his art, and a clip from that show later made its way to YouTube. (Here’s a link to the video in question.)
Murmer eventually sued the district, claiming he was wrongfully terminated because what he did with his business on his own time was his business, and constitutionally protected business at that. (The ACLU is representing Murmer for free.) In the complaint, which is available from the ACLU via Murmer’s own website, www.buttprintart.com, Murmer concedes that uses his "posterior" to paint, but describes his art as building on established traditions within post-modernism:
17. As the artist Stan Murmur, Plaintiff developed the technique of incorporating his own body and the bodies of models as “brushes” or “stamps” in the process of painting, continuing, combining and developing the traditions of, for example, tattoo art (where the human body is used as canvas), and Anthropometry of the post-modern French Artist Yves Klein (1928-1962), who used female bodies as “living brushes" in the process of creating art.
18. Plaintiff has thus created paintings by using his posterior and other body parts as a stamp with which to imprint paint onto a canvas.
19. With this technique, which includes sitting in paint and then pressing his buttocks onto a canvas, Plaintiff has created paintings which range from depicting stylized flowers to portraiture and patterns.
20. These seemingly simple paintings thus have a surprise in store for the viewer: only gradually, if at all, comes the realization that the image has been created with monotypes of the human body, a realization intended to reverberate in the viewer, setting in motion a process of self-discovery of one’s own personality traits, oscillation between watching a flower (or portrait or pattern) and one’s preconceived bias of the human body. The artist’s hope is that the viewer thus discovers his individual personality characteristics through visual response – as well as his personal views on
the concept and the purpose of art.
Once you’re finished oscillating, why not contact Mr. Murmer to commission some work? If you’ve always wanted to have your portrait painted by someone using his ass, now’s your chance.
Last Friday (Feb. 15), Judge Robert Payne heard a motion by the school district to dismiss the teacher/artist’s case, and after about an hour of oral argument he denied the motion. Trial is set for March 11.
Hopefully, Murmer will act as his own sketch artist during the trial.