By ALINA SELYUKH / Daily Nebraskan
April 26, 2007
She is a student, an actress and a barista. She is 22 years old, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, has blue eyes and shoulder-length hair.
And she doesn’t mind being nude in front of people.
Meredith Wachter, a senior theater performance major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was looking for employment in the fall, flipping through the newspaper.
“Hey, you could be an art model!” her roommate said.
She laughed and rolled her eyes.
Now, she has been modeling for a life drawing class at UNL for two semesters – about 10 times total.
“It was pretty nerve-rackingthe first time I went,” Wachter said. “I’m a free person, pretty liberal, but I’m not about to run around naked.”
While modeling, she pretended as if she were just a head, “a little face” – and nothing else. She still barely ever looks down when posing.
“It was really surreal,” she said. “I couldn’t believe I was standing in the middle of the room naked and everybody was just drawing.”
Sherry Black, the graduate student instructor of the course, was very kind and took her through all the steps, Wachter said.
“She made sure I was completely comfortable,” Wachter said. “Things like putting on music that I liked or even putting a space heater next to you so that you don’t get cold.”
The thing Wachter likes most is that nobody judges her. She is in class as an object of art.
“Students (enrolled in the class) might be uncomfortable at first,” said Michael Burton, the life drawing instructor this semester. “People get adjusted and get very objective toward the model.”
In fact, Wachter said modeling made her overcome the body complex she’d had for years. It made her feel more comfortable in her own body.
“The class is an opportunity to learn anatomy,” Burton said. “We understand that Meredith has this body type or her legs are this long compared to her torso.”
Wachter said she got used to it after a couple times posing. She no longer hurries to put her sarong on when her work is done. She no longer worries about people walking by on the street who can look in through little gaps in the window.
She got used to the routine: several one-minute poses, several 15-second or 30-second poses and an hour or 45-minute long pose.
She also got accustomed to the fact that her mother doesn’t approve of the job, while calling it “not conservative.”
She got used to her father still not knowing about it.
She even got used to physical hardships of the job, learning to pick poses that are easier to hold.
“When you are holding a standing pose, you have to maintain a rigid posture. That’s probably the most difficult,” Wachter said. “Or if you are sitting and can’t lean back, have to support yourself, your neck gets heavy and your abs become sore.”
An unwritten code of ethics prohibits students from talking to the model on the platform, Burton said. Instead, Wachter lets her mind wander and often goes over her lines for theater performances.
Then she steps down, and she’s a normal person again.
“I don’t care if they just stared at me naked for an hour,” Watcher said. “It’s completely comfortable. (This experience) proves to me that I am comfortable with who I am.”