WORDS: LAURA MCINTYRE '17, STAFF WRITER
PHOTOS: JACOB KARLIN '17, ARTS EDITOR
You have plans. Grand, grand plans. You get back to your room with a set of high-level priorities, low-level priorities, even mid-level priorities. If you’re adamant about them, they’re written out somewhere, which is one step more serious than the list just existing in your head. Either way, your room is where shit is going to get done. And this is funny, because for most people their room is where shit absolutely does not get done. The room is an abyss of procrastination, where ideas are thought of but not written out, where comfort replaces “critical thinking”, “categorical analysis”, and all those other terms you could be explaining in that paper that’s due on Thursday, but that you are deciding not to do right now, in your room.
For those artistically inclined, or for those who have always wanted to explore their creativity but have been hesitant, leaving free time for art is made impossible by the fact that one will most likely do the art in their room. Dead end. The art studios are rarely left open for students that aren’t in Studio Art classes, and public spaces on campus – Usdan, Olin, Exley – aren’t exactly conducive to a stationary artiste, hunched over a sketchpad in a corner, sketching passerby with charcoal. That would be creepy anyways.
Queue Tessa F. Houstoun. Queue an intensely color-coded email that springs up in the inboxes of those aforementioned artistically inclined, usually on a Tuesday afternoon. It reads
If you don’t appreciate this email, you are cold hearted. Apparently, students that receive these sometimes request to be taken off the mailing list. This surprises me; of all the emails one receives as a Wesleyan student, this is the type you wouldn’t want to see in your inbox? Anyways, if you do appreciate this email, you should come to Drawing Co-op, every Thursday, now held from 4-5:15 pm. This is where those kids I mentioned – who want to invest time in art but can’t seem to manage it in their room – go to draw.
It turns out that those kids are also the ones who can create 3-minute masterpieces and think little of it. When I’m at Drawing Co-op, I have this awareness that the person sitting next to me, with their simple pushes of charcoal to paper, is in fact generating this fuzzy but striking image of the nude model in the center of the room. Both of us are seeing the same naked body, but we create completely different renditions of it. I usually like my neighbor’s rendition more than my own, but that isn’t a bad thing. Drawing Co-op enables a shared artistic space, where one can stand in awe of the human ability to render a visual sight of a bare torso, or spine, into the tangible image of one.
If you don’t come to be awed by your neighbor’s artistic abilities – or perhaps, to be unexpectedly surprised by your own – you come for the vibes. Chill vibes. Tessa Houstoun is not only the sole organizer, but also the promoter, art supplies provider, and, DJ. (Moment of applause for Tessa, who single handedly pulls this all together and is awesome in all respects). A steady stream of tunes play in the background, from those of Vance Joy to Big Star to the jazz ballads of Billie Holiday. People can come and go, depending on schedules. That’s cool. Everyone orients themselves around the platform in the center of the room, upon which the nude model poses to be drawn. If you want to draw just the neckline, that’s cool. The tattoo on the left shoulder blade, over and over, in every type of drawing material provided, as the model assumes different stances, for increasingly longer poses…that’s cool too.
Heck, you can even take off your clothes if you want. In fact, we would love it if you did. Drawing Co-op is always in search of students willing to model, whether it’s to experience the liberation of being naked on a platform, or for the sake of art, or for the sake of being more comfortable in your own skin. The bonus is that there always seem to be people ready to donate their freshly drawn sketches back to the model. This could very well be the best way for you to fulfill a “draw me as one of your French girls” fantasy, if you’ve ever harbored such a daydream.
A friend of mine ended up modeling last semester. We talked it over while we got our nails done at a local salon, Michele’s. As the manicurist pushed back my cuticles, I told my friend that you forget about the body when you draw it. You forget about it being a hyper-sexualized thing, in its naked form. It becomes objective, a vertical collection of curves and lines, beautiful in its simple form. She modeled the next week, and has since encouraged others to do the same.
Drawing Co-op is a place to be seen for one person – the model – but for most – the drawers – it is a place to see. To see light and shadow on the collarbones, muscles straining below skin to maintain a pose, bruises and bumps that give character to flesh, angles in the jaw line or hip. There are no rules about what you should see, as one might encounter in an Art Studio Class. And, therefore, there are no rules about what should end up on your paper.
At the end people sometimes show each other their work. That doesn’t happen if you actually get around to doing art alone in your room. As it turns out my drawings are infinitely different from yours. And that’s chill. I think that’s pretty cool.
Come to Drawing Co-op, every Thursday from 4 - 5:15 in the Drawing Studio. Come and go as you desire.