Being an artist, I periodically get asked what I am working on. Well, over the past year I have been doing a lot of figurative work which is really lighting my fire, and recently I have embarked on a series of nudes. While I get a lot of positive remarks like " that is so cool," or "what an intriguing idea, " or " Wow, I can't wait to see them, or "here is a website you might like devoted to figurative work." I have also gotten the opposite response. Some people just a give me a blank stare and polite silence, or an "Oh, " or my favorite, " What do you want to do that for?" You would think I had just announced that I was quilting in the nude.
Personally, other than showering or engaging in acts of extreme intimacy, I can't think of many things worth doing in the buff, and at a certain age, the later is perhaps best undertaken in only a partial stage of undress. I have never really gotten the concept of nudist camps. Photos of folks playing volleyball, golf or football in the raw make me wonder about their personal tolerance for pain. Which brings me to another reason why I work in the studio fully clothed, (although if you rang my doorbell on a Sunday morning you might find me sewing in my jammies). Have you ever been in a textile studio? There are all kinds of safety hazards that might sever appendages or otherwise inflict gouging wounds. Rotary cutters, pins, needles and scissors are more like weaponry than sewing accessories. When was the last time you stepped on a needle or stabbed yourself with a pin? My quilts often have a small sample of my own personal brand of DNA from such self inflicted wounds incurred during the sewing process. No way am I exposing my private parts to such potential risks.
So back to the reason for the new series of nudes. In my mind the human body is beautiful, interesting, inspiring and sometimes, just like a train wreck, you can't take your eyes off of it. It is so organic and curvy, a form of geography and sometimes archaeology. The nude paleolithic sculpture of the Venus of Willendorf was the first piece of art I studied in Art History 101 at The Ohio State University some 40 years ago. The Greeks and Romans certainly appreciated the human form. Visit any art museum worth its salt and you will see a plethora of nudes from all periods of history.
My house is full of them. Some are pencil drawings my son drew in his college figure class, others I purchased. I have a nude abstract sculpture on my coffee table. My aunt once asked me, "What is that doing there?" I told her "just sitting as far as I can tell." So it was music to my ears when during a plenary session for a textile exhibition, the director of a local art museum informed me that there was no problem with having nudes in the exhibition, as long as they weren't engaged in the full sexual act, as this might offend the board! Guess I might get a piece in the show after all.