In the nude

Theresa Edwards

Students enjoy the modeling experience

Adam “Hanz” Gruber, junior fine arts major, draws model Emily Costa during his Drawing II class in the Art Building. Costa, sophomore anthropology major, has been posing for various art classes since last spring. MICHELE ROEHRIG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

“The biggest fear is that you’d hear someone snicker or giggle, and it’s not like that at all,” sophomore anthropology major Emily Costa said. “If I heard somebody giggling it would probably destroy my self-esteem.”

Since Costa began nude modeling her freshman year, she said she feels modeling has been a part of what improved her self-esteem. Using the time to process thoughts and reflect on her day makes her look forward to sitting for classes.

“It’s a very calming experience even though I’m exposed in front of a bunch of people,” she said.

Nervousness was an issue the first time she modeled nude. A couple of quick poses would begin the session and turn into gradually longer poses, but she had to take off her robe first.

“It was kind of like one of those almost leap-of-faith moments, that feeling you’d get before you get on a roller coaster.” she said. “Intense fear followed by the urge to just do it.”

But freshman theater major Molly MacLagan said it’s harder to come up with positions than to stand there naked.

“They’re just trying to get that line right,” she said. “They’re just trying to get that shadow.”

She posed in a new position every half hour for two hours for a class that was doing a study of movement.

The students see her as a person until class starts, she said. Then, McLagan said, she feels she might as well be a vase.

However, she said the students go out of their way to make sure she knows how appreciative they are. They always make her comfortable by offering her a fan or space heater, and she said she never leaves without students thanking her.

MacLagan said the most exciting part is walking around looking at the students’ work. She said it’s flattering and feels like it isn’t her sometimes because of all the different angles the students get from sitting in a semi-circle around her.

Costa said it’s neat, funny and creative to see the finished products.

“They can’t draw me wrong,” she said. “They draw me how they see me to the best of their abilities.”

It’s neat to see all the different perceptions, she said, because in some pieces her breasts were enlarged, in some her gut was bigger and others enhanced her back side.

One of the last times she modeled, she said she was sitting on a stool and slouching. By the end of the pose, she said a lot of the pictures looked like despair from “The Sandman”, a series of graphic novels.

“I’ve never had my self-esteem or self-confidence be diminished by the way somebody portrayed me,” she said.

Costa and MacLagan are students too though, so while all this occurs inside the art classroom, it’s a different story when they are walking around campus.

MacLagan said people are very timid about meeting models outside.

“It’s kind of cute because they aren’t sure what to do,” she said.

Also, her roommate was once in a class she was supposed to model nude for. MacLagan said she didn’t mind, but her roommate was put off from it. MacLagan ended up not modeling for that class.

Costa once saw someone she knew, but it was a person she briefly met, and the person didn’t remember her.

“It’s funny when you run into them outside of class because it’s like ‘You’ve seen me naked,'” she said laughing.

Then, there’s the reaction of family and friends. MacLagan’s extended family was appalled when they found out she was modeling nude.

“My aunt actually told me ‘I’ll pray for you,'” she said.

But, she said, most of her friends think it’s hilarious. Her mom encouraged her to take the position.

“A lot of people don’t know where to draw the line between pornography and nude modeling,” she said. “There’s a huge difference.”

Costa has had similar reaction. She said her parents are not happy with her job because it’s not steady, not because she’s modeling nude.

Susan Hardwick, secretary in the art department, hires the models for the art department and sends possible sessions to the models. The models then respond whether or not they would like to sit for those particular sessions.

Hardwick said the whole process is professional. There is a separate room the students use to change and they enter the classroom in a robe. The student models also wear the robe during their breaks, which is usually a five minute break every 20 minutes.

She explained that they do this because it would otherwise be awkward for all parties if the student just undressed in front of everyone.

Darice Polo, assistant professor of drawing and coordinator of the drawing program, explained modeling as on-the-job training.

“At the end of the semester, they pretty much start to figure out what they need to do and they feel more comfortable with the process,” she said.

Overall, the experience is enjoyable for Costa and MacLagan. Costa said she’d like to continue modeling while she’s at Kent State.

“I still know that I stood up in front of a class naked as the day I was born,” Costa said. “I lived, and nothing bad happened, and the earth didn’t swallow me whole or anything.”

Contact features reporter Theresa Edwards at [email protected].