Reflections of the Muse - Artist Statement
From Venus of Willendorf to Olympia, the nude has been a consistent subject in art throughout the ages. Yet how often do we see the models’ perspectives? Where are their voices in this ongoing discussion? These questions came to mind often during my years as a figure model.
I began posing in my senior year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Modeling allowed me an insider’s view of countless art studios and schools. I enjoyed interacting with hundreds of artists, collaborating with them for the sake of their work. Upon graduating, I took up posing full time. Besides the occasional ache and pain associated with holding perfectly still for upwards of nine hours a day, I loved my job. Yet, over time, I grew frustrated. Despite the innumerable drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures of me in studios, portfolios and on gallery walls all over Chicagoland, I felt unseen. Despite the fact that I was spending six to seven days a week in the studio, I was not making art.
One day I began fantasizing about photographing myself on the model stand and set out to make the Reflections of the Muse series. I bought a gold framed mirror and brought it to jobs with me. All of the artists were more than happy to be a part of the project. I would set up my mirror so that I could see myself while posing while not distracting the artists, and then go to work as usual. My camera would be somewhere nearby and when a break was called, I would nonchalantly grab it and click a few frames before moving. The resulting images are the interiors of studios with artists actively working; I am somewhere in the frame, reflected back at myself. My gaze is on the viewer, inviting them to look at me and the world in which I live. The tables have turned and the nude figure is now the artist.
From my experiences of knowing dozens of my colleagues, most artists’ models are also artists themselves. They are actors, dancers, painters, writers, and so on. Most of them pose not only as a means to make a living, but also because they feel a deep commitment to the artwork and a respect for artists they collaborate with. Yet their views of themselves as models remain largely mysterious. Through this work, I invite you to consider the point of view of the many nudes you have encountered in art. Perhaps you will gain a new understanding of this timeless artistic tradition.