Arts & Culture / Mosaic / November 16, 2011

Students exposed to naked power of art

The most lucrative job on campus is not the Student Calling Program (Phonathon), admissions or anything offered through work-study, but nude modeling. The art department hires students to serve as models for the studio classes.

Something more than money, however, seems to attract these student models, and the experience allows the artists and the models gain a deeper perspective of outside environment and themselves.

“The first five minutes is the worst,” Associate Professor of Art Lynette Lombard said.

“It threw me off … because it was something so new and scary,” sophomore art student Vicky Hallberg said. Eventually, she “got used to seeing the figure as a shape.”

Sophomore art model Caleb Thompson said he has always been comfortable with his body and feels even more at ease because of Knox’s tolerant student body.

He felt a slight sense of vulnerability at the start, a “second of uneasiness.” The first time he did it, he said he asked himself, “Is this really something I’m going to do today?”

Eventually, although exposing, Thompson found the experience to be “liberating.”

Thompson holds three to four poses in a 90-minute period with a 10-minute break in between. Thompson said it is “fun to see yourself drawn from different angles … different sides of me.”

Another model, who did not wish to have their name said, described the experience as a, “very comfortable, very relaxing sort of thing … almost removed from my body.”

The student noticed a difference in his/her own intention, that he/she even walked in a different way and that it was “good for my self esteem.”

“Here I am, here’s my naked body, deal with it,” they said.

Thompson said there are times when he just did not want to go in the morning, but often what pushed him to go was his sense of dedication to the students in the class.

Thompson said that he missed class a couple times and received emails saying that he had “hurt these people’s education” by not being there.

Anonymous said it is the model’s job to “make sure the students get the most out of it.”

“When the model’s not there, the atmosphere isn’t as charged,” Lombard said. “The money’s good but I think it’s more than that … People are interested in people.”

All the models are students, giving the class a sense of empathy.

Lombard said it is about “learning how to look, learning how to see, learning how to feel.”

She said many students come from high school with a view of art as a skill-based thing, but it is more than that. The modeling breaks down these preconceptions.

She noted how much more reserved our country can be compared to what she experiences in Europe, where she will see people from 20 to 70 years old nude on the beach.

“I think we shy away,” Anonymous said. “[We] don’t want to see what we have, don’t truly want to know ourselves.”

Lombard teaches them to look at a figure and translate it to a two-dimensional surface to give it volume and reality.

The models must be fit enough to hold the poses, and have enough self control to refrain from fidgeting, but the students who apply to be models range in size, shape and sex.

Lombard said the way the models project themselves and the artists’ perception of the room affect the invisible lines of the environment and “how it moves into the space.”

The awareness of the relationship between the space of environment and the figure becomes more important than the fact that there is a naked body in the room. This new awareness allows the artist to improve their work and gives the model a new sense of confidence.

“I encourage everybody to get naked,” Anonymous said.

Elizabeth Schult

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