In the latest chapter of Tallahassee Classical School’s unlikely turn in the global news spotlight, Hope Carrasquilla, the former principal of the Floridian Christian school who was ousted after parents complained her lesson containing images of Michelangelo’s David (1501-04) was “pornographic”, has traveled to Florence to see the statue in person.
At the end of March, both the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, and Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia, where the Renaissance masterpiece lives, invited Carrasquilla to see the artwork as a guest of honour. On Friday (28 April), after numerous telephone conversations and email exchanges with Hollberg, Carrasquilla arrived to view the statue with her husband and two children.
“It is an immense pleasure to have Ms. Carrasquilla as our guest at the Accademia Gallery in Florence,” Hollberg said in a statement. “I am delighted to welcome her and show her the magnificence of our museum, as well as personally introduce her to David, a sculpture that I reiterate has nothing to do with pornography. It is a masterpiece representing a religious symbol of purity and innocence, the triumph of good over evil. His nudity is an outward manifestation of Renaissance thought, which considered man the centre of the universe. People from all over the world, including many Americans, make the pilgrimage to admire him every year. Currently, more than 50% of visitors are from the United States. I am certain that Ms. Carrasquilla will receive the welcome and solidarity she deserves here in Florence.”
Carrasquilla was similarly pleased by the visit. “The thing that impressed me the most and that I didn't know, is that this whole gallery was built for him," she said in a statement. "I think it's beautiful, it looks like a church. And to me, that just represents really the purity of this figure and you see his humanness. And that's what I've always loved about it. There is nothing wrong with the human body in and of itself."
The story of Carrasquilla’s ousting last month has captured international attention and served as a lightning rod for a swirling set of issues in the US culture wars. The fallout from her firing epitomises the politicisation and polarisation in the country's education sector. In Florida, governor Ron DeSantis has campaigned to make education “anti-woke”, prompting widespread outcry and opposition. Following the scandal, the Florida Department of Education issued a statement clarifying that Michelangelo's David "has artistic and historical value".