Nude Bodies On Rice Paper by Becca Vershbow  
Painting · Added: Jul 15, 2008 · Views: 6912 · People Inspired: 12
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My first assignment in Drawing 1 my freshman year of college was to draw a "full-life, nude, self portrait." Although we all had known this was coming, we were all terrified. But the experience ended up changing me to the core. While I'd started that year afraid to be naked in front of the mirror, I was suddenly bare in my tiny dorm room with my roommate and my drawing supplies for days on end. Once the time came for the critique, our nude bodies were displayed around the room but we forgot that there was anything odd about it. We had all become so comfortable with our own nudity, that we weren't shocked by seeing our peers in such a bare way.

When I started planning for my thesis, I knew my materials but experimented for a while with subject matter. In the end I couldn't deny that all I wanted to paint with this bright colored ink on delicate rice paper were bodies. So I spent the year either in my studio, or the rooms of classmates, photographing them nude. At first I was afraid that I'd have to beg people to pose for me, but the longer I worked, the more people (friends and strangers alike) would approach ME and ask to be part of my project. I let each model choose their own activity, something they felt very comfortable doing, and photographed them doing it without clothing on. As time went on, I'd forget that there was anything out of the ordinary in this process. And as I became more comfortable, I could feel each shoot become more intimate and easy. When I finally started working on my own scroll and my studio-mate photographed me in my studio, it felt like the most natural thing in the world.

Two aspects of this process inspired me deeply. First, I was honored and touched by the people who let me enter the most intimate spaces in their lives. My favorite scroll is of my best friend and her boyfriend in an intimate embrace. We are all separated from even the closest people in our lives by certain social constructions and the moment we break down those barriers is so liberating. I felt so close to both friends and relative strangers when we would go through a really comfortable photo shoot. I was also inspired by the reactions to my work. I didn't encounter a single person who was put off by the subject matter. One of the first pieces I sold was a full frontal painting of a girl dancing with her legs spread wide open. Even my grandfather, who had a million comments when I described to him the nature of my art, had only praise for the final product.

To this day, both my work and my relationships with others continue to be effected by this incredible experience.
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