In the Nude

thoughts on nudity, art and identity

Historically in art, the female nude has been revered on canvas, in marble and on film - an inspirational muse channeling the artist’s innermost desires. By contrast, in modern society, the nude female body is either censored, sexualized, or vilified. These contradictions can empower  self worth and also lead to personal shame. At this intersection identity, nudity, and art collide.

The female body is central to many of the themes of the Femme Project. Ideas about body image, feminine identity, female sexuality and the right to control our bodies are important concerns to me personally, artistically and socially. Growing up, I had a natural comfort with my nudity, despite a fairly religiously conservative upbringing. I had no frame of reference for normal or different, only art and pornography as my education. 

Art taught me that a woman's nudity was powerful, intoxicating and elegant. My form and my curves were divine, so long as they fit a mold that could be reworked to idealism in paintings and airbrushed to perfection in Photoshop. Beauty was not granted to all, only reserved for a special few, but all women are held to a standard which expects them to aspire to a form of flawlessness.

Where art idolized the female nude, pornography corporealized it. Lips, breasts, vaginas and other secret regions of the female body were captured extremely close-up and, these days, in high definition. Pornography is  sensual and raw, erotic and grotesque. It said my nudity was an asset to be used, displayed, and consumed for the pleasure of others. However, though porn shows us everything, it essentially tells us nothing. Or perhaps worse, it tells us the WRONG things.

Surprisingly, today, female nudity remains a source of controversy. Nipples are inappropriate and censored; vaginas are misunderstood and misrepresented and almost never shown in their natural state. Nudity in art is tolerated, as long as it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable. Nudity in porn is expected, as long as it exudes sexuality and desire behind closed doors. As women, we are told that we need to love our bodies but we are taught to hate our bodies if they don’t meet an impossible standard. We hide and expose based on expectations of propriety. It is ok, in fact encouraged, for women to reveal their bodies without ever really understanding what it means to be women, what it means to be nude, and what implications may come from sharing our nude selves.

Nudity is our natural state. It is diverse, non-conforming and essential. To embrace our nudity is the ultimate leap of faith. When nudity is no longer taboo, we are free to explore an infinite world of possibilities. My journey as a woman has taught me that our nudity is something we need to own. It should not be the domain of male artists, frustrated or driven by their own desires. Nor should it be the domain of pornographers who seek to earn money by objectifying our bodies for the pleasure of others. And neither should it be something that politicians and religious leaders condemn as morally inappropriate for the safety of our society. These various players have tried to take possession of women’s nudity, to own it - every one of them using it to further their own needs or agendas. Their actions, words and characterizations marginalize women, making the struggle for true equality for women formidable. 

WE are the OWNERS of our nudity and in that conviction, we will eliminate the shame, embrace our identity and persevere in equality.

Why I March

I march for Women.

I march to preserve the freedoms that others try to take from us because we disagree.

I march because women have the right to liberate their bodies in whatever way they want, however they choose, whenever they see fit.

I march because women have the right to live and to love how they choose without judgement, shame or persecution.

I march because it is NOT OKAY to “grab ‘em by the pussy.”

I march because women are not equal in this country that prides itself as “the Land of the Free.”

I march because conservative, white men shall neither dictate nor legislate their ideology over me.

I march because hate is not an inalienable right.

I march because racism and sexism are NOT OKAY even if they are the views of the majority.

I march because injustice is an everyday experience for those without white skin, a penis and wealth.

I march because the voice of reason is drowning in marketing speak and political pivoting.

I march because Republicans are DEAD WRONG when they say the Obama presidency was a failure and set our country back.

I march because it is NOT OKAY for our political leaders to lie, invent “facts” and deny culpability for the things they say.

I march because this man should never have been elected to this office.

I march to stand up for what it is right and lead by example.

I march because I have a moral obligation to our futures.

I march for Women.

Election Day Walk

I am an artist, a woman and an American.

On November 8th, Election Day, I took the #DontTrumpWomen message to the streets of Downtown Frederick and walked a course of 19 times — north and south— on Market Street. The Walk was, and will continue to be, a silent protest, a visible stand and an active determination against the misogyny, sexism, racism, homophobia and hatred galvanized by the Trump candidacy for President of our United States.

As I reflect on the outcome of the election, seven days past, my feelings are complex. I thought the best way to communicate them with you, my readers, is to share the public reaction — positive, negative and neutral — to the #DontTrumpWomen Walk.

But Clinton is OK, huh?
— Anonymous Man Walking
I wouldn’t worry...she’s ahead.
— Patriotic Man walking Dog
Don’t Trump Women...what does that mean?”
Ohh, thank you! Did you see my shirt? I am a Nasty Woman!
— Starbucks Patron
Go Trump!
— Random Woman on Market Street
Go Trump! Fuck whore!
— Three Adolescent Boys on Bikes
Yes...Yes...You said it.
— Postwoman
Get a job.
— Business Suit Man
Yes...I voted for Hillary. Have you heard any news on the election?
— Man in Crosswalk
What is she doing? What does that sign mean?
— Confused Girl lunching with Family
Can I get a high five???
— Twenty-Something Man
Now that’s creative. I like that.
— Smoking Woman on Stoop
Can I take your picture? I voted today! Happy Election Day!
— Hipster Woman on Street Corner
T-R-U-M-P! Go Trump!!!
— Three Adolescent Boys on Bikes
She’s back again. She’s just walking in a circle.
— Confused Girl lunching with Family
You’re just his type too.
— Unremarkable Man