Baring It All
Writer(s): Jessica Pettengill
student walks into a room full of people and every single eye is on her. She slowly makes her way to the middle, and as she walks, she begins untying her robe. Finally, at the very center, she removes her robe and stands naked in front of a group of strangers. For some people, this scenario could be hard to do, but for Ball State student Elysia Arntzen this is just an average day of work.
Arntzen and Gordon Golabowski are just two of the eight students employed as nude models for the art department. Every week they are assigned to a classroom and pose anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours.
“The only hard part is being able to hold a pose for a long time,” Golabowski says. “Sometimes my hand or my leg will start to go numb.”
Golabowski, a junior, says there is nothing awkward about the job. He explains that even though he has to pose nude, he isn’t required to remove his facial piercings or change his mohawk.
“The artists’ preferences are really what matter,” he says.
Arntzen, a fifth-year senior, first learned about the job from acquaintances she had in the art department. She explains that this has caused some interesting moments in the past.
“I remember the first time I saw a friend in a class. I tried not to make eye contact. And then quite a while afterward she said, ‘I’ve totally seen you naked,’” Arntzen explains with a laugh.
She remembers asking her friend, who was also a nude model, hundreds of questions when she first started working three years ago.
“I asked if they cared what I looked liked. Did I need to shave every day? Will they care if a bear walks out?” she says.
Both Arntzen and Golabowski describe their job as a normal part of their lives.
“It’s not as big of a deal as everyone thinks,” Golabowski says. Arntzen agrees, saying that since the first day, the atmosphere was very relaxing.
The least favorite part about the job for the two is not standing naked in front of a room full of strangers; it is the amount of time they have to sit completely still, with no distractions.
“Sometimes I just do not know what to do with myself because I can’t move and I’m really bored,” Arntzen says. She explains that it is nice, however, to have the time to think about the rest of her day.
One might think that bearing it all for art students would be discomforting. But Golabowksi says the models come in all shapes and sizes.
“As long as I can hold the pose, I don’t really worry about what I look like physically,” he says. “It really depends on how comfortable people are with their body.”
Arntzen also agrees that personal appearance isn’t an important part of the job, because it’s all about the artist perspectives.
“When I watch [the artists] working, they’ll draw me anywhere from super tall and skinny, to where I look like a square,” she says. “I figure what I actually look like is not all that important, because what they draw is going to be completely different.”
Scott Anderson, a professor of art at Ball State who routinely uses nude models for his drawing classes, explains that it is important to have models with every body type for both the department and the artists themselves.
“Human beings come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and origins, and have many different personalities, beliefs and complexities,” he says. “All of these things are challenges to draw and understand.”
Many researchers worry that the conflicting images the media portrays affect how people, especially young adults, perceive “beauty.”
“I think media influences people to consider certain body types to be ideal, but there’s contradictions on what is ideal,” Golabowski says.
Arntzen says that when a person views body image through the media, they do it subjectively.
“There are people who aren’t as in shape as me, but they’re completely comfortable with their body,” she adds. “It depends on how much you’re influenced by what you see.”
Professor Anderson says the most important aspect of art is to capture these different types of personalities and beauty.
“The old saying is that variety is the spice of life, and it is through understanding variety that we understand ourselves,” he says.