What is Figure On Diversity, how did it start out, and why is the work important? This 20-minute pre-recorded research presentation was originally produced for the ABLE Assembly (Arts Better the Lives of Everyone) hosted by the Berklee College of Music. April 10-11, 2021.
Figure models provide the basis and foundation for the study of fine arts. In art programs across the country, students pursuing a traditional western art education develop their skills in representing human anatomy and likeness in their work through a combination of drawing live models and plaster sculptural representations of the human form. Historically figure modeling communities are comprised of predominantly white, thin, able-bodied, and cis-gendered individuals. Further, sculptural representations used in studio art education are overwhelmingly based on idealized male Greco-Roman forms. Together, these failings of our curriculum leave students unprepared to depict a full range of humanity in their work. But even beyond this technical failing, these limitations perpetuate the idea that only a small subset of bodies is worthy of representation in the first place, thereby impacting our cultural notions of who is beautiful.
This project seeks to diversify the field of figurative representation in art education. In Figure On Diversity, we have developed a three-part program to address these issues which can be implemented at any art institution: The Figure On Diversity Workshop, BustEd, and Modeling Modeling.
Founder & Director
Angela DeCarlis (they/them) is a portrait painter, figure drawing instructor, and former figure model. They are currently a graduate student at the University of Florida (MFA '22).
Morgan Yacoe (she/her) holds a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MFA from the University of Florida. She is a sculptor whose artworks are used in the education of medical professionals and surgeons, and the artist behind the plaster busts created for the BustEd initiative.
Consultant & Workshop Leader
Izébel Vivant (she/her) is a professional figure model and community organizer. Her BA in Women's Studies and Cultural Anthropology helped inform the design of the original Figure On Diversity workshop.