BEARING IT ALL

We’ve all had that “naked” dream. You go to school, you’re in class, and you’re naked. Even worse, people notice.So it takes a special person to get up in front of a group of strangers completely naked, and say, “Here, paint me.”At UVM’s art department, and in majority of art studios around the country, nude models are often used to help teach students how to draw the nude body, said Chris Campbell, a Senior Lecturer in the Art Department.The number of models who have volunteered varies from semester to semester, Campbell said.”We have usually about 10-15 [nude models] at a time,” she said, usually working alone or with one other model. Generally, these models are employed for a five-week period for a specific figure drawing class said Campbell.But what’s it like?Keri Johnson, a UVM alumni, said that posing times can run as long as six hours (in a 20 minutes on, five minutes off format) or as short as 30 seconds. However, sometimes, “You just hold it till you can’t hold it anymore,” Johnson said.Most of us couldn’t imagine being under that kind of physical stress, being perfectly still for hours on end and being completely naked all at the same time. But for both Johnson and fellow model, David Helfand, although it starts off difficult, it gets easier.”It’s not awkward,” Helfand said. “If anything, it’s just the opposite. The first class each semester is a little bit of an adrenaline rush.” However, according to both models and instructors, there are certain other things that help nude models. Many of the models are dancers or practice yoga or other forms of meditation, giving them an intimate connection with their bodies, Camp?bell said.Johnson, who is a yoga instructor, believes that modeling nude “made [her] far more comfortable with [her] body and with [her] sexuality.”This comfort level may explain why there are many more women modeling than men. At UVM there about three male models compared to about 10 female models Campbell said. Johnson seems to believe that the disproportion is be?cause of “men’s comfortability with their own body and feeling objectified.”A lot of men may be wondering about embarrassing situations, such as getting erections during a session. Helfand, however, seemed not to be too worried. “It’s my body, no excuses. I use meditation and I can control my body,” Helfand said. However the idea of bearing your all to a group of strangers in a closed room could cause worry about what happens outside of the classroom.But Johnson hasn’t had any trouble. “For the past three semesters, every semester, I’ve had at least one of my yoga students in a class,” she said. “My roommates think it’s funny to see paintings of me naked in Williams. They tease me a little for that,” Helfand said. Oftentimes, models will see students outside of the classroom as well. “I was at a party once and I ran into someone and we tried to figure out where we knew each other from, until it was like ‘Oh! You’ve seen me naked!'” Helfand said.But what exactly does it take to be a nude model?Campbell said that there are three main things: One, you have to want to do it. Two, you have to be totally comfortable with yourself. Usually, experience in dance or yoga helps. Finally, you have to be professional. “It’s about visual qualities rather than sexual,” she said.If you think that you have to be a runway star or a bombshell to do this, Campbell said that’s not true.”We have had really big models before”, Campbell said, “one was around 300 pounds.”Curves, she said, are actually easier to draw. In fact, there is great agreement between the models and instructors that women are easier to draw then men simply because male muscle definition is hard to capture correctly, whereas female curves are much easier to put on paper.After speaking with the people involved, both those clothed and unclothed agree that a good sense of humor and a personable fa??ade seem to make the task of being the only naked person in the room bearable and sometimes even fun.