Figure models bare all in the name of art
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 07:09
In the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts, art students have an intimate – if not awkward – opportunity to study a respected part of art curriculum: nude figure drawing.
As part of the ART 211 class offered by the Art and Design department, nude models visit and pose for student sketches.
Usually, the paid nude models work for three hours at a time, and classes range between 15 and 20 students.
But according to art professor Dylan Collins, who teaches a section of the class, it’s not as awkward as it seems – for models and students alike.
"It’s a pretty standard art school thing," he said. "It’s all about the understanding of the human body."
The class is required for many students, but Collins believes the benefits of the class are innumerable.
"It’s about the body as a machine, so you really start to gain an intimate understanding of this thing that relates to all of us," he said. "Underneath different clothing, different colored skins or different nationalities, we’re really all incredibly the same."
The classes usually meet twice a week for three-hour sessions, which means models may hold a pose for more than 45 minutes.
"Frankly, it’s hard work," Collins said. "It makes me happy that they get paid well."
Collins compared figure drawing to other still-life art. Instead of a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers, students are drawing a model.
"They’re kind of like a living still life," he said. "They just happen to be a human object that lives, breathes and moves."
Ashley Demotto is a junior intermedia student who is taking the class this semester.
"It’s definitely kind of awkward the first time, but now it just seems normal," she said.
Demotto enjoys the class both for the experience and the professionalism involved.
"I’d never really tried drawing until this class," she said. "But we take these sketches seriously."
The class is about figure drawing, and that’s what Demotto focuses on learning.
"That’s what we’re here to do: learn how the body proportions line up in numerous positions," she said.
It might be tough work, but Demotto said he thinks modeling isn’t a complicated job.
"The model really has nothing to worry about, except to keep perfectly still at all times," she said.
Although Demotto knows some people would never model nude, she stressed the experience is invaluable for students.
"I’m sure it is just as awkward to pose nude for us as it is to draw you nude for three hours," she said. "We really don’t pay much attention to the flaws or the beauty of the model’s body like they think we do."
For more information about the course or the College of Creative Arts, visit http://ccarts.wvu.edu.