This Powerful Image Took Our Breath Away. Facebook Censors It As Porn.

by
cheryl ann_skull
ArtSocial Media 5 Comments

** View Full Image Below **

In four short hours, Cheryl Ann Lipstreu created a masterpiece. She painted seven female models in full body art that interconnected each woman to create the most stunning, large scale Dia De Los Muertos Sugar Skull, bringing photographer Rene Rodriguez’s vision to life. The result of their collaboration is a powerful image that should have gone viral, but keeps getting flagged as “porn”, and consequently removed by Facebook.

Cheryl Ann who fell in love with painting and the art of making art at age 10, is a classically trained artist in the realist traditional manner. In developing her own signature style, body paintings have become a focus of her work.

In an exclusive interview, Cheryl Ann told WYSK, “Body painting is such an easy transient art form for me to capture as it really evokes the spirit of painting. It’s here today, gone tomorrow.” She added, “All of my hours of hard work are washed off with soap and water and then my masterpiece is gone and I’ve only the images left.”

“Obviously, my art is a fine art form, and not subjective porn propaganda.”

Rene’s image, his re-imagined tribute to Salvador Dali’s In Voluptus Mors (considered one of the most complex pieces in art history), is all Cheryl Ann has left of her Sugar Skull body painting. It’s a project she describes as a “glittered paint slinging mass hysteria mess,” based on the time constraint and number of models involved. Despite that, Cheryl Ann knew how amazing the final image would be.

Cheryl Ann_7So it was devastating when she tried posting the image on Facebook and it kept getting removed based on users subjectively flagging it as “porn”.

How a human body covered from head to toe in an elaborately detailed painting can be labeled as inappropriate or pornographic is truly beyond us.

Between any number of shows on network and cable TV (i.e. “The Following”, “The Walking Dead”), you can see heinously violent acts and graphic murders depicted on any given night of the week, but you can’t show a nipple… cause clearly that’s more traumatic than seeing someone’s skull cracked open (please hear the sarcasm dripping all over this statement). We know Facebook monitors have to err on the side of extreme caution when they get a report of “inappropriate” content, but come on!

Fine art museums are packed with nudes… are they less “nude” because they are in a museum versus on Facebook? Is Cheryl Ann’s art less “fine” because she shows it in a modern digital forum? A nipple is a nipple is a nipple… and her’s are covered in paint, so get over it!

Cheryl Ann set the record straight with us about her art, “Obviously, my art is a fine art form, and not subjective porn propaganda. But what’s happening with the Sugar Skull piece is so relevant and troublesome to all artists who employ this medium. It’s a struggle for me and body painting artists everywhere.”

As a self-employed artist, Cheryl Ann uses social media platforms, like Facebook, to market and promote her art. “It’s what pays the bills and provides awareness of my shows. So having this censorship directly negatively affects my career.”

Cheryl Ann is now on a mission to change this. So much so that she’s basing her next competition piece on social media censorship across the world. This painting will be her semi-finals piece for the World International Bodypainting Championships in Austria. She’s recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to get her and her team there.

Check out some of Cheryl Ann’s incredible body paintings below, including her and Rene’s Sugar Skull that took our breath away. Sadly, we couldn’t show the full image in the lead, fearing it would get flagged when we posted the story on our Facebook page.

All images published with permission of Cheryl Ann Lipstreu.


cheryl ann_skull full

Cheryl Ann_2

Cheryl Ann_4

Cheryl Ann_3

Cheryl Ann_5

cheryl ann_1


About The Artist

Cheryl Ann Lipstreu grew up on an Arabian horse farm in Belews Creek, North Carolina. At a very young age she began drawing, and when introduced to oil paint at age 10, fell in love with painting and the art of making art. She has since continued painting as both a lifelong passion and a professional career.

Cheryl Ann looks for beauty in everything she does. Traditional in approach yet extremely personal in application, Cheryl Ann’s figure studies, portraits, landscapes and body paintings are effused with emotion and grace, while the love of her work is evident in every piece and in every brushstroke. She strives to capture the true essence of her subject matter with the reflective soul of the colors of her palette.

She has received art degrees from Guilford Technical Community College, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design and the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas in Asheville NC. In addition she has completed private apprenticeships with master painters, Senor Javier Pamplona in Madrid, Spain, Master Fresco painters Ben Long IV and Roger Nelson at the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas, and continued her studies with workshops as well as private lessons from Artists Mr. John Cosby, Mr. Tony Griffin and Professional Body Painters Bella Volen and the Triple Crown World Champions; Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco of Livingbrush Studios.

Currently Cheryl Ann’s focus is on Impressionism, portraiture, plein air painting, still life, landscapes, commissions, and body paintings. She is developing her own signature style while producing new works.

Cheryl Ann

  • Norma

    I’m flummoxed by this story. First off, there is NOTHING pornographic about Cheryl Ann’s art. It’s absolutely magnificent.
    FACEBOOK, on the other hand, I get tons of “non-porn” FB ads and postings that shove sexed-up super-sized T&A in my face–the women usually in demeaning poses…and that’s ok because they’re “clothed”? Pumps and clothing the size of candy wrappers…yeah right, clothed.
    Cheryl’s models bodys’ are covered in artwork–nothing degrading or pornographic about it–simply exquisite art.
    I want to believe that Facebook is unknowingly flagging these masterpieces as porn for some silly technical reason. I want to believe that if a real person actually looked at the art, they would realize it’s just that, ART. I want to imagine FB offering an apology to Cheryl for such a gross error on their part…and as a way to make it up to her, help support Cheryl’s art with some kind of FB sponsored event…
    and I want world piece.

    • Matthew Steele

      WEll, it’s not Facebook flagging it as porn. It’s users flagging it as porn. If a lot of users flag one image, it gets added to a database that Facebook uses to determine if something is pornographic. So basically, the problem isn’t that Facebook is flagging it. It’s that real people are flagging it and Facebook is saying basically “Well, if allt hese people say it is, maybe we should.”

      In other words, Facebook doesn’t owe her an apology. The people who do call it porn do. Facebook won’t take down anything without it being flagged by users.

      • Kelly G

        So Facebook bases it’s decisions to pull/ban content on subjective mob mentality? That is a very dangerous policy, especially when you have trolls whose sole purpose is to cause trouble. I think Facebook has a responsibility to not “blindly” pull content. If they took one look at this, they would know it’s the farthest thing from “porn”. What a shame, especially for this very talented artist.

      • Norma

        Matthew….reaalllly? Are you certain of this? You sound very credible, and thank you for your insight. So following what you say is true, I still have to question FB…and of course anyone that would call this artwork porn.
        How FB responds to flagging and blocking is screwy. I just don’t believe THAT many people would flag it porn. Perhaps some, but certainly not the masses.
        FB clearly has issues with blocking and flagging, etc. At one point, FB blocked me from sending friend requests. I never misused or abused friend requesting. It was so bizarre that they’d do that, yet they did.
        With your insight now, I still point to FB. If an individual is flagged for something lewd, indecent, etc…GREAT that FB has systems set up to block them, BUT allow a person to respond, to prove that they’ve been unjustly censored….that the few puritanical extremists, or even jealous haters that have flagged it porn do NOT represent the majority’s viewpoint and they should not be able to play judge and jury over an individuals work or expression. It’s a kind of censorship that makes me very uncomfortable,
        The way FB has it set up now, an individual is guilty with no opportunity to prove themselves innocent.
        Perhaps FB has a means for a person to be able to overturn a block (that I certainly may not know about)? Do you know of such a thing, Matthew? Thanks!

  • gargouille

    I’m reposting right now! Boo-hoo to the trolls of FB for getting this flagged. Thanks for that clarification, Matthew. To me that makes the whole censorship thing a whole lot scarier.

NAVIGATE