By Audrey Jenkins – Staff Writer
At a rate of $13-an-hour, nude modeling is easily one of the most lucrative student jobs on Centre’s campus. Although stripping down to “Run The Flame” may certainly appear to be a full-time job for a select group of dedicated Centre students, the Studio Art Department is still the only department on campus willing to pay students for a voluntary display of nudity.
Models are paid to attend one or more sessions per week in which they hold a pose in front of a group of art students. Depending on the pose itself, such as standing or sitting, the models will hold the pose between ten and 20-minute increments over a one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half-hour session. H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Art and Chair of Art History & Studio Art programs Sheldon Tapley will instruct the model on how to pose, but then it is up to the model to remain as still as possible while a group of their peers sketch or paint their figure.
Potential models need not possess any particular specialized skills or physical characteristics. There is no specific major or discipline, personality type, hair color, shoe size, or body type that will comprise the ideal nude model. In fact, there seems to be quite a varied sampling of both tangible and intangible qualities among these students. The only true skill that a model must possess is the ability to remain still for an extended period of time during the sessions.
Although this is undoubtedly easier said than done, many models find the experience of complete stillness to be calming and refreshing.
In a world that is oft characterized by a whirlwind of constant activity, junior model and student Teddy Jablonski reported that the experience of modeling itself is relaxing and even meditative in nature.
“There will normally be music playing when I model, and then I like to take the time as my own personal meditation time. I reflect on my life — you don’t normally get time to do that here at Centre. It’s just a really great time to sit, relax, and meditate,” Jablonski said.
Yet despite the perks of being a nude model, including good pay, relatively easy work, and a chance to reflect on life, many people are still not convinced that nude modeling is for them because of, well, the nudity. After all, it is not every day that you find yourself posing stark-naked on a platform in front of your peers for hours at a time.
“I was really uncomfortable the first time I did it. I usually stare at one spot and keep my gaze there, but honestly, you always accidentally make eye contact with people. And that can be weird,” junior model Matthew McCurdy said. “But overall, it’s been fine. Sometimes it’s weird if I’m with new people, but most of the time, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I have a penis. It’s right there. It’s not a surprise.’”
Though many people balk at the thought of displaying themselves in front of a group of relative strangers, the models are adamant that it is simply not as weird or “awkward” as one might imagine.
For senior model Nick Niehaus, getting to the point where he felt comfortable being a nude model has been a process of growth stemming from his four-year involvement with the track team.
“Freshman year of college I wouldn’t even go shirtless at track practice. But then sophomore year I finally started taking my shirt off in public and eventually I started using the communal showers as well. I guess you might say that I got used to being naked in public,” Niehaus said. “I talked to some artists who really encouraged me to try it, so I did. Honestly, the model becomes a kind of an object. The artists aren’t paying attention to you, they are just finding the beauty in the human form.”
Like McCurdy, both Niehaus and Jablonski report having felt uncomfortable during their first sessions as nude models. However, after the initial shock of being nude in front of a group of artists passes, many models have experienced a life-altering shift in mentality that could perhaps only come from such a vulnerable experience.
“When you look in the mirror, you see the imperfections in yourself. You see what’s wrong with you. But through my experience as a nude model, I have come to realize that other people just don’t see those little imperfections in you that you think are so horrible. Watching the artists work has actually changed the way I see myself,” Jablonski said. “When I see the artwork, it’s obvious that other people don’t see the imperfections that I see. That makes me feel so much more beautiful. I’ve had the very rare chance to see myself through in another light, to see myself as other people see me.”
McCurdy agrees that the experience of being naked in front of his peers has changed him for the better.
“I’m really comfortable with my body now, and I definitely wasn’t entirely comfortable before. I actually am more outgoing because of this experience,” he said. “If I can get naked in front of people, I can speak in front of a class. I am more confident now than ever before.”
Besides the positive shift in body image, models also report an increased appreciation for both the human body and the arts.
“I like to see the process. During our breaks, we can walk around and look at the artists’ work. Personally, I can’t draw, so it’s cool to see where the artists start and how they shape the piece. It’s weird, but it’s really cool to think that my body can be a piece of art,” Niehaus said. “I now see the beauty in the body and appreciate both the body itself and the Creator that made it even more.”
So if you ARE getting tired of the same-old Flame Run, you may want to consider making some money from your nudity by becoming a nude model. The pay is good, the work is relaxing, and you may even find your life changed by this type of revealing experience.