Karishma

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, or who do follow me and may have missed this tweet, I think it’s really worth sharing again here on Museworthy so that all my readers can see it. It’s a video from BBC News about Karishma, a life model in India. Those of us who work as artist’s models in the West, and even better, in big cities with vibrant art scenes, are fortunate in many ways. I am conscious of this always. Karishma does her modeling in secret from her family, fearful of the social stigma that surrounds nudity and the conservative cultural attitudes that prevail in India today. She’s a brave young lady.

This video report reminds us of two important things: that life models who are able to work freely and regularly, should not take for granted our freedom to make a living at our profession. Some of us even blog about it :-) The other point is that artists too should not take life drawing opportunities for granted. The video tells us that Karishma is the only model at the school, and life drawing is not even a regular part of the fine arts program. That is terrible. So to you artists in America and Canada and Europe, keep in mind that when you have a nude model posing for your group you are enjoying a truly wonderful privilege.

19 thoughts on “Karishma

  1. Andrew says:

    I wonder if she has been able to keep her art modeling a secret after this segment aired on BBC and has been posted on the Youtube. Even if her parents don’t have TV or Internet access, one might think a BBC crew shadowing her from home to the school would have raised her profile. She must have had a convincing cover story.

    • artmodel says:

      Andrew,

      I had the same thought. And here I am circulating the video even more! Hope the BBC crew made the effort to ensure her anonymity.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  2. Bill MacDonald says:

    I suspect that there are models who work in secret in this country, too — although the consequences of discovery may not be as severe in our society.

  3. Dan Hawkins says:

    Being a church-going Christian, I used to keep my modeling somewhat secret not because I was ashamed of what I do but because there are just certain people (both within my family and within my church and work circles) who just don’t understand what goes on in a life drawing class. That limited secrecy went out the window in 2001 when I sent on national prime-time television here in the USA and talked about being a nude model (the clip of which can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUlFCRDuceg ), an appearance that was seen by over 35 million people if Neilson ratings are to be believed.

    Of course, my suspicions were confirmed after the show aired; there are a lot of people who just will never understand. I heard all kinds of questions about my modeling from people at my full-time job and from other places. And no matter what I said about it, certain people just seemed to treat me differently than they did before. In fact, one of the reasons I started the blog I write is to give some sort of legitimacy and normalcy to the job of an art model.

    But you know what, it is wonderful to be open about who I am and what I do…

    • artmodel says:

      Dan,

      I love that video, even more watching it the second time! Thanks for sharing. Your experience as an art model is unique and revealing. Different from mine which is why I have extra respect for you! There will always be people who just don’t “get it”. But we know the special joys and rewards of this profession. That’s all that matters :-)

      Appreciate your thoughtful comments. Also, I put you in my blogroll!

      Claudia

  4. I never take it for granted. Thanks for sharing this, Claudia.

  5. Ray says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I also never take this for granted.Each model and session is like a new gift. There is much to be said about this.

  6. Fred says:

    We cherish not only the opportunity, but also the great models that go beyond just being something to draw and inspire us with their presence and spirit. It is a gift!

  7. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention! Must admit, I completely take the availability of nude models for granted and it’s sobering (though perhaps not surprising when one takes cultural differences into account) to think that this is not the case worldwide. But yes, people who don’t do life drawing do have a tendency to think it’s peculiar – I know my kids and non-artist friends can’t get their heads round it, no matter how much I assure them that you are not aware of the nudity per se when drawing a model – it’s an artistic challenge.

    • artmodel says:

      Jennifer,

      You bring up an important point, that non-artists are so fixated on the nudity aspect over the artistic aspect. And like you said, the artists are not even thinking about the model like a “nude person” when they’re focused on their drawings. We models can even sense it when we’re posing.

      You keep drawing, Jennifer. Attitudes are hard to change and it’s not even worth it when ART is the main priority.

      Thanks so much for your comments!

      Claudia

  8. gavinpollock says:

    A cynic might point out that it’s a bit hypocritical of the British to go there and make a film like this, after we took over their country and told them to stop making all those dirty statues. Of course, if a non British cynic said that, I’d defend the Raj to the death! ;)

    It is a shame for the lass. People have some backward ideas in the UK too, but I’ve never felt the need to keep my drawing or modelling a secret.

  9. Bruce says:

    As always, this is an interesting subject, societies change in many ways, Indian art from the past has no sense of the puritanical conservatism that is prevalent today, nudes and tantric positions are more rule than the exception, but it wasn’t so long ago here in the US(New York) that women were not allowed to attend figure drawing classes with nude models. The first school I went to required male models to wear jock straps!

    • artmodel says:

      Hi Bruce!

      Your comments highlight a significant point; that nudity in Indian art was common for most of its history. Life drawing went through restrictions here in the United States but it has moved forward, not backward like it appears to be doing in India. In the video, those wonderful art students at the school clearly desire more life drawing. They should come to Spring Studio! :-)

      So great to hear from you, Bruce. Thanks for your comments! See you soon.

      Claudia

  10. violinhunter says:

    There’s a man in India who has not worn clothes for decades. Everyone in his small village respects him though he is not a model. I wish I could remember his name.

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