For my entire adulthood, 30 years, I have been a life model. I have mostly worked for drawing classes and groups, sometimes for painting or sculpture classes and once in awhile for a photographer. It is an honor to lend myself to the artist’s process. My body has gone through many changes, as you might imagine. Pregnancy, continuing to carry weight afterwards, losing lots of it when becoming depressed following various break-ups and as a result of training as a martial artist for a few years, then gaining to my present size due to injury, domestic choices, and menopause. My providing the nude figure, in whatever shape I am or have been, is essential to the artist’s growth and discovery.
The relationship between artist and model is sacred and honest. This work, without doubt, is the most genuine and civilized of all the kinds of work I’ve done (retail, volunteer management, human services, office management, live event audience management, etc). Why? Because there is a timeless, simple contract between artist and model, including respect, vulnerability, and boundaries all around. In the studio, the rest of the world goes away and we work, as people have done for centuries. I am still in the center while each person around me engages the process of making art.
It may be that I especially value this work because so much of my life has been shaped by behaviors of others that were none of the above. My parents were children when they had me; they tried to make a go of it, but by the time I was 18 months old, they were apart. I didn’t grow up with my Dad and have only gotten to know him since I’ve been an adult. Most of the adults around me when I was a child had varying degrees of poor boundaries, especially where sex was concerned. I was exposed to a lot without ever being taught anything about my body, or sexual feelings/behavior. I muddled through my teens and twenties, including my first marriage and the birth of my son, with no real sense of what my body was fully capable of. I was, however, easy with nudity, so beginning to model when I was in my mid 20s came naturally enough.
During my 30s and 40s, I learned and grew in many personal ways, including having several lovers (with various kinds of success and failure) and marrying my second husband in 2003. He, my current husband, took offense at what he perceived as an all too intimate relationship between me and the artists with whom I worked. During the first years of our marriage, I defended the work and sought to educate him in the differences between sex and nudity, between kinds of intimacy. Eventually, he learned and adjusted his view to include the art world in all of its exquisite beauty.
All in all, I can say that being a life model has modeled my life in color, shape, form, light, shade, peace and quiet.
— Georgia Fletcher