Smoke and Mirrors
Six figures began as a political statement about the gender issues in the art world, inspired in particular by the fact that only 3% of contemporary artists showing at the Met in New York are women, while 85% of the nudes on display are of women.
The models throughout history were most often marginalized women: prostitutes, destitute, desperate. The truth is that often the male artists starved too, trading their paintings for services, food and shelter, relying on the goodwill of friends, family and occasionally a patron to keep them alive. Why is it that choosing to be an artist is synonymous with choosing to be poor? If the financial success of the male artist is about as likely as winning the lottery, for a woman it is probably on par with being struck by lightning.
I wanted to be the model and the artist. I have often used the nude figure as my subject matter but had never used myself. I wanted to turn the tables for a change instead of begging my friends to take their clothes off for me or paying strangers to do it, which often felt shamefully exploitive or perverse. How as a society have we gotten so fucked up about what a normal, healthy body looks like? At what point did the human nude become something so fraught with complications and judgements? I wanted to see how it felt to be the object, subject to the gaze of the viewer, the subject of the work, and the one who was willing to expose myself both figuratively…and literally.
It’s a body. We all have one, good, bad, glorious or ugly, more often than not all at the same time. As I revealed myself nude, I had to face all of my own judgements about my body, and its nudity, and what my body reveals in its nakedness. Our clothes do a lot more than keep us warm.
So, as it is wont to do, the political became personal, and the personal became political.
To everyone that has ever said yes when I have asked them to take off their clothes, so that I could paint them, or draw them, or slather their body with Vaseline and plaster, you are my heroes. Now I join you in wondering what thoughts are in the mind of the viewer as they gaze upon my naked body, wondering if the next time they see me clothed they’ll be remembering my nakedness.