Nudity could definitely be considered a grey area; specifically, nudity in art. I think that people tend to lean one way or another when it comes to this subject; they either fully support it and take no caution, or they are completely against it, won't have anything to do with it, end of story. I used to be one of the folks who was completely against it. If I saw just the slightest bit of flesh showing in an image, I would immediately conclude it to be: Bad art, inappropriate, erotic, sexual, etc. Why? Well, because a woman didn't have her top on, of course! So it must be porn, right?
Very wrong, indeed. In fact, it wasn't until just last year that I began to appreciate and admire nudity in art. I began to question myself, "Am I sinning by admiring nudity in art?", "Is this okay?", "Is aesthetic nudity considered pornography?" It seems that in our generation, so many of us immediately shun the idea of nudity in art. I think the reason we do that (and I used to be guilty of it), is because we either tend to group it with pornography, or seeing nudity in art shocks us in general. Nudity is one of those things that we sometimes get a little wigged out by. It makes us uncomfortable. We tend to immediately see it as sin. I know I used to. And then, I was introduced to a masterpiece of a book called State of the Arts (A Christian book) in a class studying art/artists. The book (and discussion in class, of course!), took art to a much deeper level than I ever had in my life. Through it, I was able to glean exactly what I needed in distinguishing what was art versus what was porn. I learned that there were very, very drastic differences between pornography and aesthetic nudity. Now, before you throw the tomatoes, take a deep breath, have a glass of tea, and allow me to explain:
According to the The American Heritage Dictionary, Pornography is: "Sexually explicit writing, images, video, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal."
Pornography is focused on sex and sexual matter, put shortly. The (unfortunately) famous men's magazine, Playboy, is a prime time example (note: Though most people have heard of it, if you have not, do not web browse it to see what I'm talking about).It displays scantily clad as well as, yes, nude individuals and it's form, content, and meaning revolve around sex and sexual material. Pornography is created for the purpose of giving you sexual pleasure and sexual desires. How? By keeping your eyes glued to constant erotic behavior through an image. It is created for the wrong purposes. It brings absolutely no dignity to the human body -- instead, it defiles the human body, causing your heart, soul and mind to become corrupted by grotesque imagery. It is not created with any authentic, meaningful purpose. It's "purpose" is to exploit sexualized women who wear bunny ears. Pornography does not inspire us to live fuller, think deeper, or evoke authentic significance. Instead, it trashes and fills wandering minds with blatant, inappropriate material. Pornography is not wholesome. It is sin.
According to The American Heritage Dictionary, fine art is: "Art produced or intended primarily for beauty rather than utility."
"There are certain contexts in which the nude body is beautiful and appropriate and there are other contexts in which it is inappropriate and thusly loses some of its beauty." --Alexandra Foley
About a year ago, a friend of mine introduced the art of Brooke Shaden to me. I assumed that I would like her work, and that, I did. As I scrolled through her images, she quickly became one of my biggest inspirations in the photography field. It was definitely the most creative, precise work I had ever come across. Not only did I find myself enjoying her creative genius, but I also really came to admire and appreciate the aesthetic nudity in her photos. Something felt so different about the nudity that she had her subjects portray versus porn (note: I have never intended to view porn. However, because of Google's scary search engine and skank photographers on facebook, accidents have happened and my eyes have been scarred). You see, I noticed that Brooke's photos were not taken merely for the fact of, "Hey, lets shock some people by having a shirtless lady.", but instead had (and still have!) purposeful, enlightening meaning. Through her photos, I am able to appreciate the beauty of the human body and am able to derive concepts out of them. I am able to read Brooke's take on the photograph, what it means to her, why it is important to her, and make sense of the concept and the photo combined as one.
A few of Brooke's descriptions of her conceptual & fine art:
"An idea that I can't get out of my mind is the loss of childhood, and trying to get it back. There are two ways to see a picture like this - there is the depressing way, which is that she tries as hard as she can but is grown and can never get childhood back....but then there is the positive way, that at least she understands the happiness of childhood and has good enough memories that she wants them back. So many people grow up to enjoy adulthood because it is better than their childhood, or they forget all together how great childhood was. I chase my childhood every day."
"This photo means a lot to me...much quieter in nature than many other photos of mine, especially lately. It is very sad to me, and delicate and fragile, and I feel like, if this photo were to come alive, her spine and fern would shatter upon first movement."
(ALL photos below were created by and belong to Brooke Shaden.)
"I wanted to use a bold color against the dark background...I wanted to create something that looked very monotoned all around that though, especially in the skin. The pose mimics the nature surrounding, as if she is giving herself to the tree that is swallowing her. I see sadness, but also strength..."
Now I am not saying that aesthetic nudity is for everybody. Some of you may choose not to view it because you personally feel convicted about it. It may give you the wrong feelings, so to avoid lustful feelings, you stay away from it all. Or, it may just not be your cup of tea in general. You may be the opposite though. You may love aesthetic art and admire and appreciate it.You know what? Either way is is okay. I do not want to force an opinion on you. All I want is for you to at least take into consideration the form, content, and meaning of aesthetic art. If you do admire aesthetic nudity, definitely use discernment and take into consideration the form and content it is portraying. Though Brooke's aesthetic nudity has no red flags, there are others who you do need to take caution with, which is where your discernment of the art comes in! I do encourage folks who are interested in aesthetic nudity and fine art in general to take a look at more of Brooke's work here.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when determining whether nudity in a photo is acceptable or not:
-What is the purpose of this image?
-Is there meaning and significance to it?
-How do I feel when I look at this photo?
-Is the meaning collaborated with the photo sinful or wholesome?
-Does this image steer me away from God or closer to Him and the beauty He created?
What are your thoughts on this subject?