Nora Byrne
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Words

Arts, Arabic, Adventures

Costal Modeling with the Kates

Apparently it was financial idiocy, but I say it's worth it.
All photos in this post courtesy of Google Images

I love Los Angeles, am pretty infatuated with Oakland, and it's impossible not to love San Francisco when you're driving on the new Bay Bridge. However, I realized a long time ago how crucial it is for me to get a break from the city at times. Returning to rural New Hampshire taught me that wandering through forests and swimming in rivers is my way to recharge and get back in touch with my spiritual roots. The time I spent there earlier in my life fostered a strong connection to the natural world; learning to access that connection in the city is important to me.

This is why I enjoy modeling out of doors. If modeling wasn't already a spiritual activity for me, doing it outside would cement that aspect of my work. I also think working with artists that use nature as an inspiration is a great match for each of us. I worked with both Kate Doyle and Kate Savage on projects involving humans (me) interacting with elements of nature.

It was a typical rocky Maine beach, with patches
of bright green and bleached white algae.

Doyle took me out on a rocky beach in Maine during my visit home, where we spent hours fitting me in crevices, crouching on rocks, and trying to avoid the tide. After a long time in the city with very little exposure to nature, this kind of work was exactly what I needed. Lying motionless on the beach hearing waves I couldn't see crashing next to me was calming and terrifying at the same time, a reminder of both the danger and beauty of the natural world. Savage took me out in Venice, California to curl up in the trees lining the streets, all twining branches and gnarled roots. I was impressed with the way she found pockets of nature to relate to in an urban area, cars driving by as she snapped photos.

Roots like these wreck concrete sidewalks all over LA,
 another testament to the strength of the natural world

It was absolutely amazing, while modeling in these situations, how the setting affected my posing. When I settled down in the midst of either roots or rocks, my only concern was finding something comfortable. The way the roots curled would determine how my back turned, I could find vugs in the rocks to settle my hands or feet in. The resulting poses were beautiful. It was such a rush to simply settle down in these strange places, and the landscape would help me into something graceful and fitting. Beyond this, my more active poses were enhanced by the world around me. When we worked with more animalistic poses I used the ducks floating in the sea as prey, crouching and crawling, staring at them as Kate quickly took photos and sketched. Not only did they aid with the integrity of my movement, but ducks are much more interesting to watch than walls when you're holding a pose. The pressure of professionalism also helped me overcome fears of insects, spiders and whatever the homeless and canine population of Venice left on those trees.

I fell in love with modeling outside in Maine, and the opportunity to do so in the city helped me realize that I could find connections to the natural world outside of my favorite tiny forest in Lee. This kind of modeling I found to be really meaningful, a chance to touch on the art I spent a year writing about in college. I wrote almost excessively about the importance of accessibility in Environmental Art, and I think the presence of a human figure interacting with the landscape in such an intimate way adds to another's ability to understand or relate to it. As soon as either of these sessions result in finished work it will be posted up on here, and I'll be able to fully explore the connection of this experience to what I wrote about in my thesis.

ModelingNora ArmstrongComment