Nude models bring natural form back into art classes

Sarah Even

Sarah Even

Most on-campus jobs do not involve taking off your clothes, but there is one job in the art department that has nudity in the job description.

Drew Nafus, a sophomore history major, is a nude model for the figure drawing art class. Nafus models three times a week during the 50 minute class period.

While some students would be uncomfortable with this job, Nafus has no problem with it.

“I’ve always been kind of an exhibitionist,” Nafus said. “After the first two times, you don’t even feel like you’re naked. It just feels natural.”

Modeling may seem like an easy job, but Nafus said it is tough to hold the same position for long periods of time. From his modeling experience, Nafus has learned how to control and relax most of his muscles without shifting from his pose.

“People don’t realize exactly how challenging this job can be,” Nafus said.

Fatih Benzer, associate professor at SDSU, teaches the figure drawing class. He stresses to his students that there is an important difference between being naked and being nude.

“Nakedness is basically being ashamed with your clothes off. Nudity deals with an artistic tradition where you look at the science and the expressiveness of the human body,” Benzer said.

Benzer said that most of his students do not have a problem drawing nude models because it is an important part of figure drawing.

Sam Hanson, a junior general art major, took Benzer’s figure drawing class. He said it was awkward the first time he had to draw a nude model, but after that, it was easier.

“It’s a good class,” Hanson said. “You really learn a lot from it, and it helps a lot with perspective.”

Norman Gambill, the head of the Visual Arts Department, also said that utilizing nude models is a critical part of figure drawing.

“For us to be a viable art department in the Midwest, if we did not have figure drawing, we would be considered an amateur program,” Gambill said.

According to Gambill, an artist needs to understand how to draw a person with their clothes off before they will be able to draw someone who is fully clothed. Studying from nudes teaches the artist how to draw using proportion, shading and lighting and how to utilize space.

“A surgeon has to know what’s underneath before he makes his cut. [For] an artist, to be able to draw a person, [he or she] has to know what’s underneath the clothes,” Gambill said.

Gambill explained that nude modeling has its roots as far back as ancient Greece, reemerging during the Renaissance. Famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo studied from nude models.

Benzer believes the great works these artists accomplished such as the Sistine Chapel or the Last Supper would not have possible if they had not studied nude models.

“Think about the old masters,” Benzer said. “The Mona Lisa would not be possible if Leonardo didn’t work from nudes.”

The art department is not currently looking for models, but if students are interested in modeling they should fill out an application in the main office of the Visual Arts Department located in Grove Hall.

The main qualification for modeling is based on if the model can attend the designated class periods. Models are chosen on a first come, first serve basis. Body type has no bearing on who is chosen to model.