If It Makes You Think, It’s Art … Right?

I see a child’s self-portrait, with depictions of twelve year old boy thoughts in the background.  There’s the obligatory Star Wars character, complete with lightsaber. But lurking in the frame are darker images: a guillotine, and an assassination, the bullet’s path passing through the target’s head — and the boy’s, as well.

Initially, I am shocked, disturbed.  Thoughts of Columbine and Virginia Tech leap to mind.

Then I think back thirty years to my TRS-80 computer, and my animation of a guillotine in action, part of an assignment for A Tale of Two Cities.

Is my concern groundless, or valid?