Let me say right up front I’ve normally got zero problems with nudity in art. Art featuring nudity can be innocuous, it be beautiful, it can be tasteful, it can be sexy, it can be erotic, it can be challenging. There is a place for nudity in art, absolutely. I even enjoy some cheesecake/pinup/erotic art if it’s clever. But when it comes to nudity that’s pretty obviously there to titillate I think there’s a time and a place, and that place is probably not the American Atheists National Convention art show.
As much as I enjoy the idea of Neil DeGrasse Tyson winking impishly at onlookers as they take in all the sexy booby goodness next to the ultra-serious portraits of clothed atheist men, I think this juxtaposition is jarring, to put it mildly. Where is the pantsless portrait of Christopher Hitchens no one is surely screaming for? Why isn’t Carl Sagan shirtless and breaking a misty sweat while he sucks on an ice cube? “WHY?!” screams fives of people. I mean, this picture says a lot, and most of what it says isn’t good.
Here is a link to the painting (POSSIBLY NSFW!!) that is mostly cropped out of the bottom left corner. Are you aroused? Confused? Aroufsed? Yeah, uh…I’m not quite sure what to make of it either. But whatever you make of it, I hope you agree that maybe this wasn’t the best place to showcase the piece.
Listen, there’s a reason why there is very little sexy/nudieness in my art: it’s because I don’t want that to be the focus of my pieces. In this one I painted the yoke over the stock model’s breasts.
Why did I do this? Was it because it found her two-sided sideboob objectional? No, not at all. I thought the original stock was gorgeous as is. But the truth is that I feel like sometimes even a little bit boob will make a piece boob-centric, and I didn’t want this piece to be–even a little bit–about boobs. (Also I have a fetish for ruffles/ruffs/yokes.)
It’s clear that some of the convention art focuses on women in a way that is objectifying. And it wasn’t the time or the place for that.