What happened to figure drawing after UO's the nude modeling ban?

After nearly 20 years of hosting free figure drawing workshops for students, which featured nude models, the University of Oregon cancelled the sessions this September.

The termination of the sessions led to various articles that received national attention, and was even discussed by Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show.

Brook Muller, acting dean of the UO’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts, submitted a letter to the Emerald in October making clarifications about the cancelation of the Saturday figure drawing sessions. In the letter, Muller said that the art department received an influx of calls about nude modeling after an advertisement for models circulated. Muller noted that some of the calls were inappropriate.

“The decision to discontinue the workshop is based on an imperative that we utilize resources in ways that will provide the greatest benefit and that we ensure a safe and respectful environment for everyone in our learning community,” Muller said in the letter.

Cole Kastner, a sophomore digital arts major, attended the figure drawing sessions winter term of last year, before the UO canceled the sessions. Kastner said that his Drawing I and II classes required him to attend figure drawing sessions, as a part of the artist experience.

“That’s what artists do. You have to go and, in a non-sexualized manner, go and study the human figure…” Kastner said. “It was a really cool and very professional style of studying the human figure. It didn’t feel weird or anything.”

About six miles from the University of Oregon campus is an answer to artists in the Eugene community asking, where to now?

On Saturday mornings, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Lane Community College holds both short and long pose figure-drawing sessions for artists to study the human form. Besides the occasional figure drawing session at galleries like Maude Kerns, the LCC figure drawing sessions are some of the last in Eugene.

Even before the UO’s cancellation of its figure drawing sessions, LCC opened its doors to local artists.

According to Satoko Motouji, an art instructor at LCC who attends the sessions, LCC switched its Friday night figure drawing classes to Saturday morning this fall to accommodate former UO figure drawers.

The figure drawing sessions at LCC may have moved, but the classes have been in place for years.

“These people in our group are not refuges from the latest thing at UO,” David Sraton said.

Sraton attends the Buckner sessions at LCC. Paul Buckner was a Professor Emeritus at UO. Buckner passed away in February of 2014, but the drawing sessions that he started at the UO decades ago continue today at LCC.

In the many years Sraton attended figure drawing sessions both at UO and LCC and said that he never saw any unsafe behavior around the nude models.

“The whole entire art faculty has been incredibly supportive of us,”  Jan Halvorsen said. Halvorsen is an instructor of media arts at LCC and an attendee of the figure drawing sessions.

Saturdays at LCC hold two figure-drawing sessions, one featuring short-term poses and the Buckner Session, which features long-term poses with the same model for five weeks. Both sessions have a $3 fee for attendees.

Kastner hasn’t attended other figure drawing sessions in Eugene.

“I just personally haven’t had the urge to go somewhere else for something I don’t really feel welcome to. It’s a community, so I feel like I was going with my students and with my peers to my school’s figure drawing classes together, it felt really comfortable.”

Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.



Tell us what you think:

Alexandra Wallachy

Alexandra Wallachy

Alex is a head correspondent at the Emerald focusing on higher education and student government. She is also a producer for the Emerald Podcast Network and a huge fan of the Daily Show.