NYC art-school models: Theresa
Nude and interviewed.
Mon Oct 10 2011
Photograph: Marielle Solan
How did you become an art model?
I answered a Craigslist ad for this sketch group looking for unique models to work in an atmosphere different from a traditional art school. I'd never modeled for an art school, but I had an idea of what that involved, and with this group, I figured that I'd have to do poses that aren't seen in things like Greek or Roman statues.
What did they mean by unique?
Something more dynamic. More "there." More daring. Although, they want it kept clean. Unique and different, but not sexual.
Can you give an example?
Well, you're given a scene, a setup for the evening. Let's say it's vampires. But then, there might be yarn all over the stage, and then you'd have to figure out how to pose with the yarn while being a vampire.
So you sometimes work with other models?
What goes through your mind while posing?
I try and use my imagination. If I'm not dead tired and my body is loose, I'll find a form. And then maybe there's a personality that comes from the form. And I'll try and project that. Or sometimes if I think of a mood, I'll find a form that goes with the mood.
Sounds a bit like acting.
Have there been times when you feel objectified or put on display?
Yes, there have been. And also moments when I've felt disrespected. At which point I get angry, but of course, there's nothing I can do about it, since I'm stuck posing.
When do you feel disrespected? What happens?
It's usually something like the class talking way too much. I start to think, Is my pose not good enough? Because you're just talking and talking. I know some people draw and talk at the same time. But sometimes, you know they're not paying enough attention, or putting enough focus into what they're doing. And then you feel insulted because you're up there focusing all your energy on this process.
What's the strangest thing that's ever happened while modeling?
The only thing coming to mind is something that happened to someone I was posing with. She was laying on her back, and I'm not sure what she intended to do, but she ended up rolling off the stage!
Nothing that involved you personally?
Not really. I do remember this one evening where I was posing for a cannibalism scene. And I was working with a new model, so suddenly, it's like I'm gnawing on the wrist of somebody I don't even know.
What do you tell people who don't get what you're doing?
That I think everyone should try it. Because you can't hide. You just have to stand there with absolutely all your physical faults, flaws, whatever you think is wrong with you, in front of all these strangers. But once you get up there, it's incredible!