all bodies are worthy of representation
Designed to increase accessibility of figure modeling as a profession and opportunity for growth and empowerment, the original Figure On Diversity Workshop is a day-long participatory event which is open to anyone interested in trying nude figure modeling and who identifies as underrepresented in fine art and media in any way. This includes people of color, and individuals who are fat, transgender, or visibly disabled.
The 8-hour workshops are divided into three parts:
Part I: Wellbeing in Figure Modeling | Workshop leaders facilitate group discussion with special attention paid to the needs of participants as belonging to marginalized identities. Topics range from logistical (kinds of modeling work; receiving payment) to psychological (vulnerability; objectification; empowerment). The importance of self-advocacy is emphasized, and participants are encouraged to connect with the local modeling community for additional support and resources.
Part II: Physical Practice and Needs | After engaging in movement games, participants hold timed poses while facilitators discuss physical aspects of figure modeling, including different kinds of poses, how to occupy the space of the model stand, how to avoid injury, and how to develop poses which play to our strengths as individuals. Disability and gender are particularly centered in discussion as participants learn to work within their ability and consider how to perform gender through physical stances.
Part III: Open Drawing Session | Artists from the community are invited to draw from workshop participants, who are given the option to try nude modeling for the first time. No participant is required to model. Due to the multi-model format of the drawing group, participants each pose for about 20 minutes total, providing an entry into modeling which is significantly shorter than a typical 3-hour modeling gig.
Workshop leader Cassandre Charles (right) facilitates discussion in Part I of a Figure On Diversity workshop
Workshop participants practice holding short poses during Part II
Artists from the community gather to draw from workshop participants as they try nude modeling for the very first time
part of the conversation
Art academies are only accessible to students with immense social privilege – even more so than most of higher education. Culturally, there's a high risk associated with pursuing an arts degree, as lucrative careers in the arts are seen as few and far-between. As such, students in art academia tend to already possess a moderate amount of social capital and class privilege. Here is an article about what it's like to be one of the few Black students at an elite art school in the United States.
Figure modeling is an entry-level position, and a way for individuals of any class background to insert themselves directly into the academic conversation.