The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

72° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


The Art of the Nude Model

Growing up, most of us are taught that nudity is inherently bad; that it is completely and absolutely taboo.

Allison Conley, however, believes no such thing.

Conley, a senior at Stony Brook University majoring in digital arts, has been working as a nude model since the summer of 2008, and sees no problem with taking off her clothes.

“I mean, the first 10 minutes I ever did it was a little bit strange,” Conley said as she began to describe her modeling experience. “But, after that it’s not, it’s not weird at all.”

Conley began posing nude for art classes in an attempt to improve her own art skills and become more involved within the art community.  She said that if she were to see how it felt to pose nude and to come up with creative poses, she would be able to better-render the human figure.

According to Conley, who uses figures in her work to bring in emotions, the use of the human figure in a piece of art gives viewers something to relate to; something to identify with.

Jamie Macaulay, a graduate student in Stony Brook’s Master’s in fine arts program, agrees.

“If somebody shivers, or they blush, we understand the meaning of that in a way that’s different than understanding sort of the behavior of an animal,” Macaulay said.

Macaulay, who teaches Foundations of Drawing at Stony Brook, teaches his class to draw the human form at the conclusion of the semester because of its complexity.

He says there is a difference between what his students see in pop culture and what they draw in his class.

This then begs the question, “Where is the line between nude art and exploitation of the body?”

There must be a reason why we consider Picasso’s “Blue Nude,” a portrait of a woman’s back, to be art, while photos of Megan Fox is not used as an example in art classes.

“It has to do with the difference between the nude and the naked,” Macaulay said.

According to Macaulay, the “nude” is simply a representation of the male or female figure, while  the “naked” is “kind of stripped down and being laid bare and exposed.”

“Nudes within art history are often the projection of the ideal nude, which is bound up then with somebody anonymous,” Macaulay said.

Anya Skylarova, a freshman double majoring in studio art and business at Stony Brook, shares Macaulay’s opinion, and said that, “Nude art can evoke a sensual feeling, however, it’s more an appreciation of the human body.”

But not all artists feel  as comfortable.

“You can tell when they’re a little bit new because, when you take off your robe, they won’t talk to you, it’s like a wall goes up,” Conley said.

Sophia Dang, a fourth-year Stony Brook student double majoring in studio art and art history, said she felt that way when she first started taking art classes.

“When I first started, I didn’t know where to look,” Dang said.

But as time progressed, Dang became increasingly comfortable and began to view the human form as simply a group of shapes with differing highlights and tonal values.

Dang said that she no longer feels like she should look away from the nude model standing in front of her, because she no longer focuses on the body as a body. She sees the body as more of an art piece.

“I think the more you do it, the more desensitized you get, and it’s not even about the body anymore,” Dang said.

Though Dang said that she has been desensitized, Macaulay disagrees.

“Drawing from a model, any kind, is always very deeply sensual, but it’s not necessarily erotic,” Macaulay said.

Conley said that an erotic vibe is not necessarily the defining factor.

According to Conley, the distinction between art and pornography is based on the intent of both the artist and the viewer.

“Even if it’s obscene, you can always have a poetry or beauty about something.  Art doesn’t always have to be pretty,” Conley said.

Conley said that depictions of the nude can each be interpreted in whichever way their viewers believe them to be.  She said that if children are taught that they do not need to be ashamed of their bodies, they will not look at a naked person as a wholly sexual being.

“I think it’s peoples’ own, if they find it erotic, it’s their own perversions,” Conley said.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (0)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *