Preface to Original Text

Before the spoken word there was the language of symbols. Men and women have dedicated their lives to the study of symbols, and they continue to fascinate and beguile us. Art is the language of symbols, and figurative art may be interpreted as the most sophisticated symbol making, as it proved primitive society’s consciousness of itself. Primitive peoples used the most splendid model to make their images: their own enigmatic and complex bodies.

The archetype of the model has occupied a significant spot throughout the history of picture making. While figurative art passes in and out of vogue, it has never left us and never shall. The figure is art. It is to the visual artist what Shakespeare is to the performing artist. His rich and complex text is at once beautiful and homely, just as our human form. Nothing is as exciting and marvelous, and every serious artist and artist’s model understands this.

Perhaps this is why we choose so unconventional a career – why we are special enough to be the subject of art, immortalized in various media. . . why we are transformed when we are nude. . . why we are immune to the exquisite vulnerability of nakedness and why we are different from those who are not.

We become models for a myriad of different reasons… They are personal and complex, and defy psychosocial theory in that no experiential similarities exist among us. We are old and young, black and white, ivy-league-educated and high school drop-outs. We are the children of famous poets and nobody’s children. Some of us want to shape our generation while others of us are just looking to survive. Yet we are all driven into that romantic and mysterious place – the artist’s studio.

I feel compelled to add that I have never escaped a social function without first answering a score of questions about who we are, what we do, how and why we do it, what really goes on in the studio, and what relationship exists between the artist and the model in so unique a situation.

In short, people are enthralled by the fact that we must maintain (while stark naked) both an erotic vulnerability and professional objectivity. I explain to them that we can do all these things because modeling is a special skill — an art form in and of itself, and that those of us who practise it are artists whose task it is to inspire our fellow artists to create.

Chelsea Leger
ARTLINE Model and Artist Network