Nora Byrne
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Words

Arts, Arabic, Adventures

Introspection Issues

Lately I’ve neglected writing about my experiences modeling. Delving into the art world is so vast that it is easy to overlook how I was introduced, and I’ve been incredibly busy fitting modeling work in with my other jobs.

This is nice, actually, because I have been modeling regularly. Also a bit disconcerting, because I always assumed if I were modeling regularly I would write regularly about modeling. However, every time I sit down to write about my life as an art model I find myself bored with just about every idea. Which is a bit silly, because I actually really love the days where I get to model.

Last Wednesday I shoveled off my car, drove an hour to Kittery to work a class, got lunch from the lovely Beach Pea folks and proceeded to exploit Golden Harvest’s best idea ever (they have dates, filled with peanut butter) for dessert. I returned for another few hours of modeling, then hurried back to Portland to make my friend’s gallery opening, which turned out to be on Thursday. This is exactly the kind of day I would like to live as a dedicated figure model (focused on the dates, which are filled with peanut butter).

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One of these modeling sessions was a new gig with an artist in Kittery who ended up being very chatty, in the way that instantly gets to the heart of it. A few poses turned into a three-hour conversation about creative goals and challenges, complete with side notes about how awesome the Bay Area is. During this time we discussed my inability to write about modeling while actually doing it, delving into the nature of introspection. We agreed that it often comes as a follow-up - when you’re actively involved in an endeavor you try to stay in it rather than achieving the level of distance that allows you to critically examine it. The implication being that, until I stop modeling (or take a break) I wont have the evaluative capabilities I had when I started this blog. It’s true that I spend a lot of time that could be spent silently introspecting thinking about where to get lunch.

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The point (beyond the fact that you can fill dates with peanut butter, and eat them), is that I spent three hours in active introspection because I was working with an artist who was willing to go there. I often wonder what tangible difference having a good or bad model can make. Sure, it’s annoying if someone is moving a lot or doesn’t get back into a pose well, but it’s certainly not life-shattering. I also, perhaps too self-conciously, always try to avoid being a model who is “too into it.” A model id not an irreplaceable part of an artwork. Most figure artists can take a body and make something from it, whether the model is fully invested or not. That day, chatting about the creative impulse and how we think about art, I started to suspect that my interest in art and my willingness to discuss it is likely a large part of why I am hired. Focusing on art rather than the pose allows you to walk the line between ‘just a body’ or ‘over-serious model.’ I think it’s important to be a dedicated participant in the artistic process while maintaining the perspective that the pose is not the most important part of the work.

As a model I gain access to a huge variety of art lessons, perspectives and philosophies, tending to forget my own part in these experiences. I have some amount of control over how involved I am in the creative process. The energy and the presence of another person with similar interests can make time intellectually productive as well as creatively stimulating. I hope to continue this though modeling while expanding the ways in which I manifest my desire to discuss art and it’s possibilities. Hopefully I’ll fit in a few more posts about posing, as well.