Nude models pose for art's sake

The art school looks for models for painting, drawing and sculpting.

Audra Hina and Professor Mark Langeneckert observe nude model Madeleine Webb during class Tuesday at the Fine Arts Building.  Langeneckert teaches an anatomical drawing class, which includes drawing nude models, every Tuesday and Thursday for advanced art students.

In an art class, exposing yourself is not only a metaphorical concept, but also often a literal one. Nude modeling for the art school is an activity practiced by many MU students.

Students sign up for nude modeling at the main office of the art department, but it is not something that is limited just to students.

“They come from the general undergraduate population and from the community at large,” assistant teaching professor Matthew Ballou said. “I choose models on my previous experience with them.”

Nude modeling is an activity that has to be approached with confidence and can be awkward at first. Neil Gavett, a veteran model, recalls his first experience modeling nude.

“I had to pick my own poses for that day,” Gavett said. “It was awkward. I not only had to model nude for the first time but had to do it with no instructor to fall back on.”

Gavett is a popular choice for the art department but instructors also like to mix it up.

“I like to switch between male and female, young and old, thinner and fuller, et cetera,” Ballou said.

Although it appears female models are in higher demand, instructors choose models based on the level of the drawing class.

“Statistically, beginning level art classes are largely populated with female students,” Ballou said. “I have taught many courses with two or fewer males. This means that female models are often a more instinctive choice.”

Contrary to popular belief, the atmosphere is professional in these classes, with no tension or awkwardness.

“Students in the art field are accustom to working with nude models, which is no different from medical students in the clinical or anatomical lab in the medical school,” assistant professor Lampo Leong said.

The poses models are required to hold range from 20 minutes to as long as three hours. Holding positions for that long can seem like an eternity, so some models resort to music to help keep track of time as well as ease any tensions in the background.

“(Music) gives me a way to count time if I can’t see a time device,” Gavett said. “You just throw in a disc and if that album ends, I know I have been in a pose for the better part of an hour.”

The poses usually include reclining, seating and standing positions unless instructed otherwise by the professor. When modeling nude, insecurities have to go out the window.

“You don’t want to worry about what everyone thinks of you,” Gavett said. “You’re naked. You have no barriers between what you appear as and what they see.”

When studying a nude model, students are expected to portray the human body in an artistic manner, incorporating elements such as structure, rhythm, expression and spirit.

“Studying painting and drawing and sculpting from a nude model provides an artist and art student the opportunity to observe and capture, in many different ways, the beauty of the human form,” Leong said. “Each student's work will be very different, and we always celebrate diversity and creativity.

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