Just As I Am Project

Well it seems to me that the job of artists in society tends to be to shed light on issues that we face on a daily basis; and given the description that I just gave I would propose to you that Jerry and the cast of Seinfeld were in fact the artists of the century for the 20th century. I draw a lot of inspiration from the light-hearted jokesters in that they seemed to fearlessly bring into the open things that we all thought and were afraid to say while making us laugh about it. As I develop as an artist I have found that it is in fact very difficult to do what Jerry did, it is hard when you feel the judgment of those around you to stand up and do what it is that you think is right or to say what needs to be said.

Just over two years ago I received a phone call from a friend, one of the best and most influential friends I will ever have. Tim is an art teacher in a Christian school in BC and on this particular week he had taken his grade 10-12 art students on a trip to the local art gallery as he was prone to do a couple of times a year. Tim described the experience as they went through the upper floor of the gallery and saw some wonderfully inspiring “Christian” art, that is beautiful water colors and landscapes but then to his horror as they went down into the lower gallery they were hit straight on by a cartoon character in full frontal nudity doing something very derogatory. Tim decided it was too late to turn back and proceeded through the gallery with his students electing to spend some time with them afterwards discussing what they had seen and their thoughts on it.

“Why was there nobody who looked like me in there” was one girl’s response, “They were all perfect bodies.”
“Why are there no Christians doing nudes in art” asked another girl.
“I didn’t feel uplifted in any way from what I saw” stated another.

Art has the power to change our lives, as long as we as artists come at it not as “how can I shock the viewer” but rather “how can I open up my soul or the soul of my subject in such a way as to touch the soul of the viewer.” I have never had the pleasure of going to Europe, but those that I have talked to who have seen the David or the paintings within The Sistine Chapel both of which were created by Michelangelo say that seeing these works literally takes your breathe away. What is it about beauty and the body that is so inspiring??

David the Israelite king whose appearance Michelangelo was trying to capture said in Psalm 139 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,” I don’t know about most people, but growing up I didn’t feel wonderfully made; I was a skinny awkward kid who never felt comfortable in my own skin. The terms “Bone rack” and “beanpole” will probably haunt me all of my life, and now as an adult I feel as though most of the time I am a beanpole with a big lump in the middle where my thundering abs should be, my chest too small an undefined, shoulders too droopy and arms too spindly; again I feel more fearfully than wonderfully made.

For the past two years I have been thinking about the project of photographing art nudes of anyone who would come in to stand in front of my camera and be photographed “Just as they are” but as is often the case I have spent the last two years in fear of how a project like this would be viewed and so put off doing it. This past year has been a great and hard year for me as Sonya and I have been working on Eve Studios a studio which focuses on building self esteem in women through photography. I have been deeply hurt by the stories I have heard from some clients as they struggle through the question of “Am I beautiful”, and hearing the stories of hurt and pain that many of our clients have held on to for years and decades for some. On the flip side I have had a number of clients who have come in fully confident that they are beautiful and very comfortable with their appearance, and in these cases I have felt immense joy. I have seen incredible beauty in clients of all ages and shapes and can honestly say that they are Fearfully, Wonderfully and Beautifully made.

Just As I Am is a project where anyone from 18 – 118 can come and have 10 mins of photography time to bare their souls as well as their bodies and come to the place of saying this is me, Just As I Am. I ask only a few things of those who wish to be involved, Please bring ID that proves your age, please either write a sentence or two or come with a phrase or two that you feel describes who you are. I welcome men or women to come alone, but also encourage them co come as a couple if they want, or to come as a group; but if you want to be a part of touching the lives of others and in fact be touched with the beauty of who you are please sign up for a timeslot and be part of the healing process.


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