Nude modeling is not about being ‘wild or crazy’


Sam Dundeck, sophomore visual communication major, draws a live model in her life drawing class Thursday morning.

By Chelsey Boutan

When junior sociology major Edgar Miranda posed nude for a life drawing class for the first time, he was nervous.

“My heart was beating fast because I’ve never been nude in front of so many people,” Miranda said. “I kept telling myself, ‘You don’t have to do it.’ Then I was just like, ‘You know what? Whatever, I should just go with it.'”

Studio division secretary Cheryl Fuller said between 10 to 12 models were hired two weeks ago    for life drawing classes this semester.

Fuller said the student job pays $10 an hour and employees usually model for one to three classes each week. Community members can also be hired, but students usually get first priority, Fuller said.

Many life drawing models like Miranda applied for the job because it offered flexible hours and would help pay for living expenses.

“My parents help me out with school, but I don’t want to be a leech,” Miranda said.

Art graduate staff assistant Ben Beeson said the art department doesn’t require applicants to have prior modeling experience. Applicants are chosen based on their enthusiasm, ability to learn and body awareness, Beeson said.

As a model, Miranda said art students treat him with respect, but people who have misconceptions about nude modeling may see it as degrading.

Studio division head Billie Giese-Vella said negative perceptions surrounding nude modeling could be a result of cultural or religious reasons.

“Sometimes people are just uncomfortable with that whole issue, and they may equate nudity with sexuality,” Giese-Vella said. “For an artist, it’s not about that. It’s about gaining knowledge and skill.”

Joanne Gustafson, 26, of Rockford, was a former art student and is a life drawing model. Many people equate nude modeling to stripping, Gustafson said.

“The nakedness is intrinsic to it,” Gustafson said. “It’s not something that’s supposed to make it wild or crazy; that’s just how art students learn how to draw the body.”

People might not understand nude modeling because they are uncomfortable with their own bodies, Gustafson said – especially women. That is one of the reasons why it was difficult to find female life drawing models, Gustafson said.

“I’m not thin or posh,” Gustafson said. “I’m a little bit more average, and I think that’s something that speaks to other women too.”

Senior communication major Claire Von Ohlen, said she improved her own drawing and feels more comfortable with her body as a result of being a life drawing model.

“I’ve seen myself drawn from many angles by so many people that the idea of being self-conscious at this point…just doesn’t exist,” Von Ohlen said. “I think that this was a gradual learning experience, and it has made me feel a lot more stable, mature and comfortable with myself.”