Two nights a week, the art department strips down and bares it all for an excitingly fresh course, complete with nude models and intimate instruction.
Life Drawing I (ARTS 2323) is a new class featuring professional models in the buff two evenings a week, but it’s not just for the eye candy that a growing number of students are registering. Surrounded in his office by dozens of sketches and a wide array of colorful supplies, Chris Stewart, chair of the Art Department, shared his thoughts on the need for the class and the stripped down models.
“It’s foundation. You look at the art from the Greek classics, the Renaissance…the human form is the essence of it,” Stewart explained. “The only way to study it is to draw a lot of nude models. Males and females, people of different physiques…you just have to draw it.”
Some might believe that sitting for hours, only feet away from some Aphrodite or Adonis in their birthday suit would be intimidating, even counterproductive to producing masterful works of art. As it turns out, quite the opposite is true.
“You get real used to it as a student. You’d be surprised. After a couple minutes, it’s just like…nothing,” Stewart said.
However, that level of comfort is not something everyone reaches immediately. Christopher Umierski, an art major in the class, expressed his initial feeling for the class.
“You’re there to draw, so that just goes away—that weird, awkward feeling,” he said.
Another sophomore in the class, Carina Alvarado, explained her sentiments during a short break from her sketching.
“I was a little nervous,” she said. “But what I’m going in for, I have to get comfortable with it.”
When the topic of how the students adapted to their steamy subjects arose, Stewart was quick with his reply.
“It’s kinda strange for some people,” he said. “I was kind of worried when we first started them. ‘Were these students ready for that?’ And they were great.”
The students seem to be handling the class well, and it’s not easy modeling for the class either. Surrounded by multiple sets of eyes, silent except the scratching of utensils on paper and canvas, and frozen in place for three continuous hours seem like very awkward positions to be in for most people.
The model, Jessica Greene, did her best to describe the feeling of walking out in front of a class totally exposed.
“It’s unusual due to the nature of the task, particularly when you’re not clothed, for example,” she said. “It’s definitely odd.”
Seemingly at a loss for words, she finally found something she could compare it to from past experience.
“Me and my family, we skydive, and that’s another thing where you go through several different phases mentally. I could compare the two in a roundabout way,” Greene said.
Stewart believes much the same thing, saying that modeling for the artists is a lot harder than one would think. The class is no cakewalk for the students either.
“We have extremely demanding and capable professors”, the department chair commented.
Alvarado agrees, saying it is a challenge every time drawing realistically and proportionally. Her classmate, Umierski, found the challenge well worth it.
“I want to get better at painting people,” he said. “It’s shown me that I need work on figure drawing, and I’m there to improve. I knew it was going to help my painting.”
The professor of the class, Philana Pace-Oliphant, ventured to summarize the goal of the class.
“It’s important to learn how we’re made,” she said.
Students interested in registering for Life Drawing I are recommended to have taken Drawing I (ARTS 1316) and can contact their advisors or the professor, Philana Pace, at email@example.com.
Story by: Brandon Frisby
Photo illustration: Taylor Griffin
Class Photo: Belen Casillas