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NYC art-school models: Cassandra

Interview by David Levitz; Photographs by Jolie Ruben


Cassandra, 29, Brooklyn. Models for the Art Students League of New York.

How'd you get into art modeling?
Cassandra: I was working at an independent bookstore in Los Angeles with a great art section, and artists would come in all the time and ask if I had ever thought about art modeling. It took about a year, but I finally decided to follow their advice. After posing for a painter for a few sessions, I was hooked and quit my bookstore job to pursue modeling full-time.

What else do you do?
I'm a principal member and co-producer of Desert Sin, a theatrical dance company. Right now we're preparing our upcoming show "Twitchers", which opens the first two weekends of October. The show's about birds and women who take flight.

You model mostly for individual artists. Are you anyone's muse?
One relationship that stands out has been modeling for Juan Medina for the past three years. It's extraordinary just seeing his paintings progress and just how well he can capture my face and my expressions. As I open up more to him as a person, he's expressing that in his paintings.

How involved are you in the work?
I see it as my role to inspire and encourage. I definitely have my opinions, but I don't always openly express them to the artists I work for. I have to remove myself from the equation sometimes and not look to see if they've made me look "fat" or "old", but rather see what that piece of art is expressing and what I think it means to them and what it will mean to a viewer.

What art do you enjoy?
The last museum exhibit I saw was Francis Bacon at the Met. I went with one of the artists I work for before a session. I'd seen his work before but never a full exhibition. I love seeing retrospectives of one artist and seeing the phases they've gone through. I certainly don't believe all his philosophies. Still, I was moved by the emotionality of his work. I think it's better to live emotionally than in a detached fashion.

Has modeling changed you?
I've learned that you can make the choice to live your life inspired by art and fantasy, as opposed to feeling trapped by the realities of life.

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