Thursday, February 26, 2015

Am I Nude Or Am I Naked?

Artist As A Crone - Catherine Meyers

Early into in my art education at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, when I was regularly attending life drawing classes, with nude models, I was never really uncomfortable with their nudity when rendering them, but I felt a differently if I came eye to eyeball with them, and they began to speak to me.
I short while later my perspective drastically changed when I became a model myself, in the University I was attending. Now, I was viewing the viewer. I got to see the reactions of fine art students to me, as a nude model. I was surprised by what I sensed was discomfort from students, when I would walk around (robed) to look, and perhaps comment on their drawings.

Some people might think that the model would be uncomfortable with their own nudity. In fact the opposite is true. In reality the model would not be able to disrobe and do their job, if they did not have a level of comfort with their bodies, and understood the differences between nudity, and being naked. This opinion of the individual doing the rendering, is mostly due to not being able to imagine themselves ever getting nude, in front of strangers or even those they know.

It didn't happen immediately, but not long after I began to model, I became at ease with my own body, and skin so to speak. I was able to detach psychologically, is the way I describe it. It was the viewers or art students who were not so comfortable. I think this comfort level changes and increases, as the artist becomes more experienced working with nude models.

I never really thought so much about there being a difference between being naked, as opposed to being nude. But I did yesterday, after listening to an interview on CBC with Curator Virginia Eichorn. This interview was about an exciting exhibit, opening March 7th, at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener Ontario. In this exhibit Getting Naked is wanting to facilitate a dialogue on the topic of nudity and nakedness after gathering over a hundred plus paintings for this upcoming exhibit, from the Canadian Art Bank, that have nudes as subject matter.

Call me a traditionalist, but I strongly believe as an artist, learning how to render the nude is an absolute essential part of your education. For me, and I think many artists, life drawing of the figure is the foundation of our training. It has also been my experience the best models have been artists themselves. On the other hand, I can not say that the best artists are models. There is however, something that happens to your perception, physically and physiologically, when you get into a pose or gesture, that somehow helps you to understand  the process of drawing, which very much involves the body. I think it works on an intuitive and subconscious level.

Perhaps, if the took on the postures of the life drawing model, before actually drawing, they may be given more insight into their renderings. This is speculation on my part, as I have never experienced this teaching technique in a life drawing class, but would certainly like to try it as an experiment.

” The soul of a human being as well as the soul of a culture cannot evolve if the body is not reclaimed and honoured “. Maureen Murdock

Kitchener, ON – January 22, 2015 – The Canadian Art Council Art Bank has many all-but-forgotten nudes, unclothed or naked pieces of art. That will change this spring when THEMUSEUM reveals its 100+ piece exhibit, Getting Naked, to the public.
“We have 17,000 works of art by Canadian artists at the Art Bank, but for a number of reasons the small collection of nudes do not get rented out to boardrooms or office spaces. My goal was to see the works displayed, but no one has had the courage to show the works until David Marskell of THEMUSEUM enthusiastically agreed,” says Victoria Henry, Canadian Art Bank Director.
The collection is wildly disparate, but has only one message, medium, or theme tying them together. Nudity. Not pornography, though some are erotic. Not gratuitous, though some are challenging. They are provocative and evocative, joyful and heartbreaking, breathtaking and hilarious, wry and fascinating.
“Since its rebranding and evolution over the last several years, THEMUSEUM has made its mark in establishing itself as an organization that is not afraid to make bold choices,” says Virginia Eichhorn, Getting Naked Curator.
Many of the artists are recognized Canadian icons, well known for other works, however the nudes have remained rarely seen. “From the hyper-sexualized voyeur viewpoints, depicted by Dennis Burton, to the historic referential evocations of Frank Mulvey; situating the nude as a site of liberation as per Joyce Weiland or of defiance when used by Donigan Cumming or Evergon; the dynamic, dark and sensual artworks presented by Diana Thorneycroft; or simply as form or shape in and of itself as demonstrated through the work of Greg Payce and Evan Penny – Getting Naked evokes the continued fascination that artists have had with the human form, for as long as art has existed,” Eichhorn says.
“This is a rare opportunity to not only see these incredible works of art but also have a conversation about why Canadian culture shy’s away from nudity,” says David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM. “As Canadian citizens, we own these works of art but until now there hasn’t been an opportunity to view them all at once. THEMUSEUM is going to pair the exhibit with discussion around nudity and culture. We want this exhibit to inspire discussion.”
The Getting Naked exhibit opens March 7th, 2015.
Additional quotes:
“The artists who are represented in the Art Bank’s collection are all well-recognized and highly accomplished artists. We aren’t speaking about amateurs here or people who are gratuitously trying to be proactive. So it seems surprising that here, in 2014, we can be made so uncomfortable with seeing a bit of skin. Why is that? Getting Naked sets out to answer that question as well as to provide examples of the enduring power of the human figure, in all its naked glory, as a powerful purveyor of meaning and representation of many ways and states of being,” Virginia Eichhorn.
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