Models Help Art Students

 ‘There’s no exception for the human body in sculpting, drawing”

By Teresa Auch | Asst. News Editor

Art has played a big part in Melissa Cacialli’s life.

Everyone in her family has found a creative outlet, she said. However, her mother’s work as a nude model not only taught her an appreciation of art but also the importance of the human body.

Because of her mother’s influence, Cacialli, a graduate student, has dreamed of being a nude model since she was a child, she said.

“I’ve always wanted to,” she said. “I see it as a privilege to help these students in their development.”

Cacialli was able to realize her goal when she started working as a nude model for the Department of Art two months ago.

Though some people might find working as a nude model daunting, Cacialli and the other models hired by Ball State University provide a needed resource for art students.

The human body is the main subject art students study, Leah Brack, a junior art major, said, so having models is essential.

“It’s such a complicated subject, and it’s so difficult to draw,” Brack said.

Nude models are also better than clothed models because clothing becomes a distraction, she said.

“There’s no exception for the human body,” Cacialli said.


Laura Jones*, a junior art major and model who is using the alias “Jones” to protect her identity, said the models turn in their schedule to the art department secretary, who then e-mails them their work schedule every Friday.

The students usually work about two to three times a week and up to six to eight hours, Jones said.

Once the models are in the classes, their job depends on the professor and the students.

“You’re there for their needs,” Jones said.

Depending on what class they’re working with, models will hold poses from 20 to 40 minutes. Jones said she usually holds a sitting position for 20 minutes and lying positions for 30 minutes. However, Cacialli, who always works for a sophomore level class, usually holds two 40-minute poses per class.

Both Jones and Cacialli said they never have problems working with the classes.

“They’re very professional about it,” Jones said. “Everyone handles it with a lot of maturity.”

Most students have been trained to view the human body differently than other people, Cacialli said.

“Art students don’t see you as a body; they see you as lines,” she said.

Brack said the only time drawing a nude model was awkward was her first time doing so.

However, she only needed two hours before it felt normal, she said.

Most art students are also more interested in getting practice than about someone’s looks.

The first time Cacialli modeled, the class was excited because they did not have a model until her, she said.

“I think they appreciate it because who wants to draw a bowl of fruit?” she said.

The professors also help the models to feel comfortable by keeping the area clean and keeping the temperature at a good level, Jones said.


Despite help from professors, nude models do experience some discomfort.

Models usually set up their poses on a platform with a thin layer of carpet on it. The longer they hold their poses, the more uncomfortable the platform becomes, Jones said.

Holding certain poses also causes problems for the models.

“Some poses are just horrible,” Jones said. “Any time you put weight on one area of the body it starts to go to sleep.”

She said although lying positions are usually preferred over sitting positions, they can hurt too if a model is laying on an arm.

Models are allowed to take breaks, although the breaks create a distraction for the students, Brack said.

However, Brack said she would rather have any model, no matter how long they can hold a pose, than no model at all.

Lights are also pointed at the models, which can make it hot, Cacialli said. One of her worst days was when she came in dehydrated, had the hiccups, and then had to sit under the lights and hold a pose for 40 minutes, she said.


Though Cacialli said modeling doesn’t make her shy anymore, she said body issues kept her from doing it during her undergraduate years.

“When I was an undergrad, I was always like ‘when I lose 10 pounds,'” she said. “I finally got to the point where I was comfortable with my own body.”

Nude modeling has also helped Cacialli become more comfortable with her body.

“I think it’s a very liberating experience,” Cacialli said.

Jones’ experience with drawing nude models helped make modeling more easy for her.

“Since I’m used to working with nude models, the whole idea didn’t really bother me,” Jones said. “Not only am I a nude model, I have to see the nude models.”

Despite her experience, Jones’ first session was a little awkward, she said.

“It’s like confronting the dream everyone has of going to class naked,” Jones said.

Jones’ experiences have helped her to be more sensitive to the models when she is on the other side of the easel. She always keeps track of the time in case the professor forgets to so models do not have to hold a pose for longer than they are supposed to, she said.

Cacialli also thinks modeling provides a good experience for artists and feels all art students should model at least once, she said.

“It makes them understand what models go through,” Cacialli said.

For everyone else, Cacialli said modeling teaches an important lesson.

“In art, you’re not ugly; you’re a piece of work,” she said.