Hope Carrasquilla, a Florida principal ousted for showing schoolchildren Michelangelo’s nude sculpture of David, was given an all-expenses paid vacation to Florence to see the artwork late last month.
Carrasquilla’s story made headlines worldwide after parents at the Tallahassee charter school she once led complained about her syllabus containing images of the famed statue, which they deemed “pornographic.” In April, she was invited by the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, and Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia, where David is exhibited, to view the statue with her family.
“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.”
Carrasquilla’s situation became a flashpoint in debates unfolding in the American South over what constitutes “age-appropriate” education. (It even inspired a Saturday Night Live skit.) The charter school follows the “classical education curriculum model” that stresses a return to “core virtues” and the “centrality of the Western tradition.”
Amid conservative criticism that public education has recently prioritized issues of race and gender identity, Republican lawmakers in Florida have pushed to mandate classical education courses in the secondary school system.
In an interview with Slate, the chair of the school’s board, Barney Bishop III, said the issue was not with David, but rather with the “egregious” failure to warn parents about their children seeing the “potentially controversial” artwork. “Showing the entire statue of David is appropriate at some age,” said Bishop. “We’re going to figure out when that is.”
Carrasquilla, meanwhile, enjoyed her meeting with David. “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.”