I am not a prude, I never was and I doubt’ I’ll ever be. Though most of the ladies in my work are dressed, I do from time to time work on a nude, which is normally artistic and non sexual… I really am not into sexual art, though my mom says my art is very erotic.
However, when I was working on my last project “The Most Beautiful Rose”, a nude portrait of the delightful Roser Portella, and I had my little one year old sitting on my lap I had to stop for a moment and ask myself “Do I want him to grow surrounded by nudity?” Especially in this society in which nudity is synonym of porn, or “explicit sex” as I read in some news not too long ago. What kind of consequence would it bring to have a little kid seeing artistic nudity?
See, the thing is that I was raised by two Catholic parents, very traditional and modest. And I grew up with full access to my parent’s library which was well stocked with art books, many of them containing nudity. In our home, artistic nudity was not only something that was OK, it was something to be admired. I remember my mom talking about Michael Angelo’s David, talking in awe about the detail in the arms, the veins, the tension that you could see in the muscles along his limbs. I remember looking at Dali’s Leda, the swan and Gala about to embrace, her skin looking white as marble. I studied over and again Botticelli Birth of Venus, always wondering why her toes were not up the quality of the rest of her body, and kind of laughing at the mild (and sometimes not so mild) cellulite you would find in the Renaissance bodies.
And through seeing nudity as something beautiful we grew to appreciate our own bodies. We learned to respect our own bodies. Nudity was not seen as sexual by me growing up. Nudity could be just a way to appreciate creation, God’s work, nature, whatever you want to call it. Neither my sister or I grew to be sluts, or sexually messed up, or too prude to see our own naked reflection.We are two healthy adult women, and in my case, though my mom was (surprisingly) shocked the first time I drew nipples when I was about 14 (“Oh, how not appropriate for a Catholic school girl!”), I learned to appreciate the human body as a work of art, and I enjoy to draw it and take up the challenge of transmitting its beauty and vitality in so imperfect of a medium as watercolors or Photoshop.
As to the question “Do I want my child to grow surrounded by nudity?” Most certainly. And I want him to learn how beautiful we are, and how there are appropriate moments for nudity and other moments that are not, and that we respect our own bodies and those of other people, and that nudity is not porn, and that you can admire someone’s body without it sexually arousing you. And I hope that he will grow up to be a well adjusted adult, appreciating the human body as much as I do.