Thursday, March 3, 2011

Baring It All

There I was at the Light Factory, taking in their new "Body & Soul" exhibit. The display features works from artists Jock Sturges, Joyce Tenneson, and Mona Kuhn. All of the pieces in this exhibit are photographs which feature a single nude individual as the subject. The artists each illustrate the human body in a different light: Sturges, who captures the innocence of his subject, Fanny, coming into her own over a period of several years; Kuhn, who shows off the soft sensuality of her subjects in her native land, Brazil; and Tenneson, whose subjects exhude a mystical, spiritual air. All of the subjects in these photographs have something remarkable about their eyes. They are intense, innocent, confident, and no matter what else is going on in these photographs, the eyes grab the attention and represent the focal point in them all. An old saying comes to mind, instantly: "The eyes are the windows to the soul."

As I stroll through the exhibit I take note of the fact that when your body is free, when there is nothing to hide behind, your soul becomes bare, open, vulnerable - beautiful. It's sad that many people, particularly in our culture, will disagree and criticize this form of art. As it is with words, everything must be taken into context. With words, it's how you use them, the tone you give them, the feeling you put behind them. We tend to make too big a deal about something that really shouldn't be, and as a result, that very thing becomes even more threatening.

In terms of our bodies, relatively speaking, we are all the same and have nothing to be ashamed of. (I can just hear my mother calling me a "little hippie" as I type this.) But maybe we should appreciate the beauty, see past the surface, and relax, because it is okay to accept ourselves as we are and experience the beauty of being "open". It's like makeup: wear too much of it, and people will suddenly wonder what it is you're trying to cover up. Now, I'm not suggesting that we all prance around town naked. And if you do, as you are being cuffed, please don't tell the officer this was my idea. All I'm saying is that it's perfectly okay to just be ourselves - we are all beautiful, and we are all works of art. 

-Ali Macaluso

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