I posted a new artwork on my Facebook today that could cause discomfort for some viewers. Recently a male dancer posed in a glorious backward swoop of a pose, legs splayed open, arm circling around for hand to clutch foot…it was pure poetry! When I saw the beauty of the pose he had constructed, my impulse was to shriek with joy (although for the sake of the others in the room, I did not).
The only problem was that our model happened to have genitals, and they were displayed front and center! Faced with such a pose, I have seen artists flee to another position across the room so as not to have to memorialize that view in their art. It makes me sad to think that we might be so filled with discomfort or even shame about the human body that we must turn a blind eye to anatomical material deemed taboo.
For my part, what I saw was the beauty of a complex organic form. The model’s head was a lyrical abstract shape flung over his shoulder ridge. His pose organically mirrored the geometric marks I had placed on the page days before being gifted with the pose. I was transfixed as I positioned the ink drawing on the page.
As an art professor and artist I have always felt it is my duty to defend the portrayal of ALL figurative material. I would argue that everything about the human body is miraculous, amazing, interesting, poetic, and functional. Acknowledging that genitals exist is not about shocking my viewers. Portraying everything about the body reflects my acceptance, my comfort, and my profound wonder.
Fight or flight – where would you stand?