Looking is a cousin to communicating, and nothing is more important than that. You get enjoyment from the beauty and circumstances of life exactly to the degree that you look. We become aware of and are able to handle the less fortunate facts of life only to the degree that we are able and willing to look at them without flinching.
So pop those peepers, OK? :-)
Letter of the week, from Halley
I was born and raised in a small town in the midwestern United States (an area not known for its liberalism) and, like most people in this society, grew up with a strong sense of the "immorality" and "shocking" nature of nudity. I was taught always to cover myself up, and to expect the same of others. I remember clearly one afternoon at summer camp, at age 12 or 13, showering with the other girls and trying so very hard not to look at them, not an easy feat in such a small space!
As I got older, I came to realize that my passion was for visual art, and spent most of my time drawing and painting. I was accepted to a fine art program, and lo and behold my shock when I saw right there on the list of required courses: "Illustrative Figure Drawing."
I went into that class literally quaking. It seemed impossible that I could sit there and draw a naked person, just like a bowl of fruit or anything else. My friends and family, too, though supportive of me, were a little taken aback by this, and told me they thought it was a "weird" thing to be teaching. Nevertheless, I went in to that classroom determined to learn what there was to be learned.
It was really nothing short of a revelation. At the beginning of the semester, my figures were stiff, doll-like, embarrassed -- like I didn't want it to seem like I had been looking at her breasts, at her thighs. But of course, you can't draw without looking! With the help of an amazing teacher and several amazing models, I learned to look, and to see. The grace and beauty of a human body, a human being. I learned that drawing a naked person wasn't just like drawing fruit after all; it was better, and deeper, on a personal and even spiritual level. In understanding the beauty of the model, I was learning about the beauty in all of us.
And, as it happened, I learned to see the beauty in my own body. Instead of covering myself up with a towel right out of the shower so I would never catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I began, in the privacy of my apartment, to walk around naked and enjoy it. Instead of seeing myself as a series of flaws (breasts too big, skin too pale) I started to see myself as a woman - not perfect, but beautiful and whole.
When I first started exploring the internet, one of the things I hoped to find was nude pictures to use as photo references and inspiration for drawings, but initially, I was disappointed. All I could come up with was porn, sites that did make me feel dirty to look at. I found DOMAI through a chance link and so far every photograph I've seen here is wonderful. Thank you for sharing them.