Project Description

24″x15″; charcoal and chalk on paper

$3600, framed

In 2011, I was asked to show some figurative work in a show in Boston. I submitted four samples: three female nudes and one male nude. I was told by the organizers that the female nudes would be fine for the show, but not the male; the show was public and children might see it.

I politely thanked them for their consideration and withdrew from the show. The work was a body, and I was not willing to separate out the male nude from the others. If female nudes were acceptable, males should be as well.

This generated discussion and controversy among the show organizers. After several weeks of back and forth, it was eventually decided that they would show it, but it had to be in a private gallery not visible from the street. This was the final compromise that the chair of the show would accept, after all of the other members had turned in favor of it.

It seemed to me that the chair’s objection centered around an inability to separate nudity from sexuality, at least for the male figure: male nudes are inherently sexual (if not outright obscene), while female nudes may be purely decorative, particularly for male viewers.

I created this piece as a response to this controversy. I wanted to indicate that while there can be overlap between nudity and sexuality, there can be non-sexual nudity, and non-nude sexuality. As part of this statement, I wanted to invert the traditional paradigm of discretely covering the male nude while exposing the female, to further emphasize the point.

I had a lot of fun making this piece, and I think my wonderful models did too.