Sans Clothing

Stu Schwartz

Stu is a retired university professor who taught and conducted research related to human diversity issues for more than 30 years. His first college job, in 1964, was posing naked for art classes— he still poses part-time. He was a successful author of college textbooks. “Lights On—Clothes Off” ‘Confessions of an Unabashed Exhibitionist’ is his first novel. Stu welcomes comments and questions related to his column or book. His email:
[email protected]

My mother used the smallest burner and the lowest setting while roasting eggplant on our gas stove. She carefully turned that reddish-brown orb often. When it was done Mom sliced it and slathered the pieces with butter and sprinkled them with cheese. Yummy! I loved eggplant when I was a child but now—I hate it.

An artist with stunning talent, Jung Yang, shared his outrage with me when he complained that some of his art has been censored, work which many people had said was simply glorious. His remarks followed the removal of one of his paintings from social media due to the nudity it contained. “This is my original art piece,” Yang said. “I wanted to express who I am as a queer artist and how I want to explore my imagination on canvas. Artists have the right to express and create.” It was clear from our conversation that he was disappointed and angry.

Artists do have the right to create what they desire. The current problem is the eggplant parade. I’m sure that everyone has seen, across social media, the use of eggplants to cover parts of bodies. I’m not talking about concealing something that may be rated as pornographic or hateful. I’m simply expressing my outrage that eggplant or some scribbled lines or some stars are used to destroy our viewing and enjoyment of legitimate, healthy, and talented art.

I’ll go a step beyond that. Even if we don’t consider a piece of art or a professionally created photo to be great, we have the need to view it and make our own judgment. And we have the right to see the image as the artist created it—as it was intended to be viewed and appreciated.

Fortunately, I’ve seen plenty of incredible figurative paintings, photos, and sculptures without eggplants. I’ve always been swept away by the nude figure and have never been visually interrupted or dismayed by a vagina or a penis. I’m still in awe of being fortunate enough to have viewed the wall and ceiling paintings, images filled with nudes, in the Vatican. I rejoice that I stood just feet away mesmerized by the statue of David in Florence. The breasts in the paintings were not covered. David’s penis was not covered. And I treasure the nude art created by Andy Warhol. All of us who have been marveled by nudes, created in the past by incredible artists and photographers, have never seen an eggplant destroying the figure’s beauty.

However, censorship is currently alive and well in our society. Wait, I should not have said “well” as I do think it’s not well, it’s horrible. Censorship is destroying our ability to view art as intended by the artist and our right to form our own opinion.

I often pose sans clothing for artists and photographers. If one of them asks me to hide my penis (they have joined the eggplant generation) I’m out of there. And it would disappoint me if they share or sell their work tagged with an eggplant. When artists, friends and readers of this column request to see photos from my posing, no worries, they will see it all. So feel free to ask.

I never want to see another ugly eggplant covering the beauty of the body. And I vow to never eat eggplant again.

Your comments regarding my column or any topic related to “Sans Clothing” are welcomed. Thanks, ‘Stu’ [email protected]

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