As you probably noticed, this illustrated story about Tim Holmes’ latest artwork of nudes contains no representative photos. I chuckle at the irony of this publication’s proof of Holmes’ artistic message, which is that our culture sees a need to veil the human body, even in art, because of our discomfort — or maybe our fear and shame — in its power.
Speaking for Christians, maybe our Puritanical views originate with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, as told in the book of Genesis. Maybe when Adam and Eve committed the first sin and were ashamed in the eyes of God and began covering their bodies, it became a reason for us, as their descendents, to believe that a naked body is shameful.
On the other hand, God created the human body in His image. He created for Adam a “helpmate,” which, of course, was Eve.
Since then, every man has the same physical make-up, and so does every woman. The only difference is in size and color. So what we see in nude art certainly isn’t anything unexpected.
We all have bodies that serve us in so many ways. They allow us to hike up mountains, enjoy delicious food, read good books, play sports and music, nurse our children and make love to our partners. We have many reasons to cherish our bodies.
Perhaps that’s all nude art is about, appreciating our temples, the temporary houses of our souls. Maybe much of nudity in art is simply a presentation of the self, pure and honest, before God. Maybe Michelangelo, when he created the statue of David, left him unclothed to show that his power was in his intimate relationship with God, and not from armor and weapons and royal robes.
Along the same thought process, God also created a desire in humans for the most intimate physical contact, the kind that allows our species, like every other, to reproduce. God said, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the Earth and subdue it.”
With that said, where does the conflict lie? Is it with sex? Do we as a society have some sexual hangups? Or maybe the question is, do artists abuse their freedom of expression? Maybe some artists produce nude art as a way of working through their own sexual hangups. I don’t know, but if that’s the case, maybe more of us should take up art.
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Considering that nudity in art is as common as helmets on a football field, maybe there is more to be said about artists’ intrigue with the subject. Being created in God’s image, humans are special and complex creatures, and therefore, there is something mystical about our bodies. To an artist, an observer of his world, the body is a tough observation to ignore.
Then there is the definition of art to consider. Art is a creation that is made to evoke emotion. Since we are creations, maybe we are all, in turn, meant to create. Perhaps creating is giving back to our Creator. Could the muse, or inspiration, of some artists be the voice of God?
If art is made to evoke emotion, then nude art certainly does that. Whether it is relief (“Glad my thighs aren’t that fat”), or awe (“She is so beautiful and sensual”), or fear (“What kind of filth is this? I can’t look.”), it evokes emotion.
I have been offended by art. I don’t enjoy blasphemy or exploitation, no matter what name it’s given, or what gallery it’s in. Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life, but in all my experience with viewing art, I have never seen a painting or a sculpture of a nude that offended me. Of course, I stay away from those erotic “art” galleries, but local artists whose nude art I have seen is tasteful. A good example is Tim Holmes’ art. His recent series called “Why do we have bodies?” is a deep, thought-provoking message, not nudes for the sake of nudity. Many of his works are subtle and even beautiful.
There is a difference between art and porn. Probably everyone draws that line at a different dividing point. We are all different. Isn’t that great?
Whichever way you lean on the nude art issue, you won’t see any in the “Independent Record.” Our editor, Dave Shors, thinks it is inappropriate and understands that it is offensive to some of our readers.
“We certainly believe in freedom of speech and the right to exercise your artistic expression, but this isn’t the forum to explore all the nuances of nudity, especially graphically. It certainly is a place to discuss it, but not to depict it,” Shors said.
So, if you like nude art, or at least don’t mind it, you can find out where to see it in “Your Time.” If you don’t want view nude art, you don’t have to.