Naked and Unafraid: Nude Modeling at The Bakery

A dramatized scoff vibrates through the phone as a familiar motherly tone escapes the speaker, “You’re posing nude?!” 

This was the phone call received by Tamar Levy (they/them), a third-year art major at Georgia State after sharing that they would be the model for a figure drawing class at The Bakery Atlanta on May 14 on Facebook. Disregarding the comment, Levy desired to partake in this uncommon venture as they simply thought it would be interesting to see the outcomes of people drawing them.

“Bodies are just bodies,” said Levy. “[Drawing] becomes very clinical. It’s just shapes. It wasn’t an exhibitionist thing at all. I forgot I was naked.”

Exposed before everyone, Levy noted that they were, for lack of better words, feeling themselves. It can be an empowering act to consciously decide and experience something that, for many, would be outside of their comfort zones.

Nudity is stigmatized and sexualized in the majority of today’s contexts, as displayed by Levy’s mother’s concerned and almost fearful reaction to the concept. But naked and unafraid, Levy shared that the hardest part of modeling was simply holding position, not hesitation at the idea of posing nude. 

Levy is currently enrolled in a figure drawing class on the Atlanta campus. Highly enjoying the class, it lacks in one department: transgender and gender-nonconforming inclusion. Models and their features are only spoken of on a binary.

At The Bakery, figure drawing is more structurally fluid. Curated by Lo Pararo (they/them), a Georgia State alum and artist, the figure drawing series is designed to foster individual creativity for the models as well as the artists participating. Pararo strives to create a space in which there are no rules, “without the pressure to draw or imitate ‘correctly,’” encouraging unique artistic interpretations. 

First, the foundation of the space: Figure drawing at The Bakery, occurring every second Tuesday of every month, is usually set within the facilities’ art gallery. Pararo positions couches, draperies and often eclectic artistic pieces, including pillows resembling eyeballs and painted mannequins, around where the model will be.

 The props are meant to encourage the model to try poses that allow them to explore, free of judgement, as models are given the liberty to pose however they choose.

Sometimes playing music themselves or often bringing in DJs, Pararo evades the space with binaural beats, isochronic tones and relaxing vibes in order to transcend the art gallery into a tranquil and meditative zone. The gentle flow of incense smoke drifts around the room as artists who bring their own materials sit in silence and create.

Levy noted that it felt like a safe environment: a chill, small and intimate class where onlookers were respectful. Modeling for figure drawing at The Bakery is open to anyone who desires. No prior experience of any sort is necessary.