I am a studio artist who graduated from a Midwestern university two years ago, and I still have vivid recollections of one of my most memorable and beautiful days on campus. As I was making my way to class one morning during my senior year, I noticed a good friend named Amanda headed toward the Fine Arts Building so I walked in with her and talked with her for a few minutes before we parted ways in the main lobby. I knew that she wasnít an art major, but I didnít think twice about her being there since many students work in the building, take introductory courses for general studies credit, or just stop by to look at the galleries. Amanda is one of the most beautiful young women that I have ever met, but unlike some of the phony sorority types that I have known, hers was a simple and natural beauty. She had dark hair and a wonderful smile, and since the day I met her during our freshman year, I felt that she was the embodiment of the sweet and innocent 'girl next door' image. She lived on my floor in a coed dorm, but she was far more modest that any of the other students on the floor. Many of the guys and girls thought nothing of walking from their rooms to the showers wearing only a towel, and there had even been a few times when some of the more carefree and liberated women went topless with a towel wrapped around their waists like their male counterparts. Amanda was the exception, and it seemed like the only time she used the dorm showers was early in the morning or late at night when no one else was likely to see her.
I made my way to my advanced life drawing class, and as we waited for our new model to step into the studio, I was totally amazed at what I saw when I looked to the back of the room. There was Amanda talking with our instructor and wearing a silk robe that all figure models wear when they are preparing to pose for the class. Since I knew that she was painfully shy, I could not believe that she was evidently scheduled to pose nude for our drawing class. Even from across the room, I could tell that she was very nervous as she spoke to the instructor, and at one point, she pointed in my direction and stepped back behind the changing partition. The instructor came over to me and said that Amanda was having second thoughts about posing because she didn't expect to see anyone that she knew in the class. She asked if I would have a word with her to see if I could convince her to stay and fulfill her obligation.
I had known Amanda for four years, and I knew that she was always struggling to earn enough money to stay in school. She had held more campus jobs than any student I had known, and apparently she had agreed to this one out of desperation since it paid twice the salary of other jobs at the college. Our instructor had warned her that she would have to undress completely in order to pose for the life drawing class, but she apparently hadn't shown Amanda the actual studio space when she interviewed her for the role, and so I am sure that my friend did not envision standing completely nude on a small posing stage just a few feet from the twelve students in the room. In fact, when I went over to speak with her, she told me that she had pictured a darkened room where she would be able to keep her distance from the artists and hold poses that would allow her to cover most of her body during the session. She also confessed that she was naîve enough to think that she would only be asked to pose for female students and that she never dreamed that she would be expected to stand completely exposed in a fully lit studio in front of a mixed audience. I did my best to reassure her that she would be a wonderful model, and after a few minutes of soul searching, she nervously walked into the studio, and at the instructor's request, slipped out of her robe and stood on the small platform in the center of the room.
She was more beautiful than I could ever have imagined, and the situation was especially touching for me since I was aware of the feelings of embarrassment and nervousness that Amanda must have felt when she stood naked in front of several men for the first time in her life. She had a graceful, athletic build and her skin was sensuously smooth and flawless. She seemed to grow somewhat more comfortable as the session went on, but still she gave a visible look of relief when the instructor told her that the class was over. Our instructor always invited the models to stay after to look at the drawings and to talk with the artists, and so once Amanda had put her robe back on, she walked around the studio to admire our work. Everyone could tell that she had been nervous, and they all congratulated her for her courage and complimented her on her poise and natural beauty. She thanked them for their kind words and for the first time since she nervously stepped into the room to pose at the start of class, I saw her wonderful smile return. I think Amanda learned a lot about herself that afternoon as she began to experience for perhaps the first time the simple pleasure and freedom that many people enjoy when they are able to put aside their inhibitions and feel comfortable with their own bodies.
Amanda posed for our class a few more times during that semester, and it was a pleasure to watch her confidence grow with each session. Since I needed a model to help me to complete my senior portfolio, I was able to persuade her to work with me in several private sessions during our final semester on campus. She was grateful for the money that I was paying her to pose, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to use her beautiful form as the inspiration for a series of drawings, sculptures, and even some artistic photographs. Her new sense of confidence even became evident away from the studio. The last time I saw her was late one night in our dorm during finals week our senior year. She had stepped out of the women's shower room wrapped in a large white towel, something I never seen her do earlier in the year.
As she walked toward me, she knew that no one else was out in the hallway at that hour, and so she "accidentally" let her towel drop to the floor, gave a look of mock embarrassment as she stood completely naked for a few brief moments, and then gathered up her towel and flashed an impish wink and that beautiful innocent smile as she walked past me and disappeared into her room. I'll probably never know the reason for her unexpected and spontaneous flash, but I'd like to think it was her way of thanking me for helping her to feel more confident about her body and her appearance. Two years later, I have my sculptures and drawings to help me to remember her, but that image of her passing in the hallway is still etched in my memory. I regret that I have not stayed in touch with her, but I would love to know what she is doing and to tell her that she is still the most beautiful woman I have ever had to pleasure to observe.