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Naked Truth

Artist Susan Singer is determined to make us look.


As in Singer’s earlier shows, “Private Moments” and “Scar Series,” she wants to show that what we perceive as embarrassing or shameful or even grotesque can be beautiful. For “Private Moments,” Singer drew nudes of pregnant and nursing mothers, in part as a way to come to terms with the changes pregnancy and nursing made in her own body, but also to look at the joy, sensuality and spirituality of that season in women’s lives. In “Scar Series” she focused on the visual reminders that illness or accident leave on the body. She found meaning, and even beauty, in what most would rather not look at. Singer said that there were some viewers who were moved to tears by this work, finding it resonated with their own experiences.

In “Twelve Naked Men,” Singer again deals with what makes many viewers uncomfortable; it prompts reflection on why “full frontal male nudity” might be considered obscene while female nudity is widely accepted. And like her other work, most of the bodies presented in the show are not “perfect,” nor are they positioned in flattering ways. Even the most flawless torso in the series is rendered in hot red pastel that members of Singer’s art class said looked too “painful.” Singer, who chooses the colors for each drawing intuitively, chose not to change it.

But lest all this sound a bit too serious, there’s a playful quality to Singer’s work. In one piece, “Chris,” the model sports a fig leaf in the appropriate place. Another piece, which is shown in addition to the 12 men — apostles? playmates of the month? — depicts a male nude in three different poses doing a “Happy Dance.”

“I want people to become aware of their prejudices,” Singer says of her work. “Awareness is the first step to being able to move past them. … If this show makes you uncomfortable, go home and stand naked in front of a mirror and ask yourself why you feel so embarrassed.” S

“Twelve Naked Men” is on display through Nov. 26 at Visual Art Studio, 208 W. Broad St., 644-1368. The artist will be in the studio for discussions Nov. 25 from noon to 2 p.m.

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