Greenville College really is a bubble, especially when it comes to digital media. People are too nice during critiques. And when they’re honest and blunt, then they’re viewed as rude. Honestly, I have a difficult time tearing someone’s work apart, because I understand that it sucks when that happens. But how can I live with myself if I tell someone their work is good when they have so much untapped potential they don’t even know about? However, how can an artist grow if no one tells them what’s wrong with their work? I know it sucks; it’s happened to me before. One time during Midway Critique, someone looked at the business card I had made and said, “If this was sitting out somewhere, I wouldn’t even look at it. It looks like it’s from 1996.” That hurt so much to hear, but it helped a lot. Sometimes, you need to be brutally honest. That’s how designers and artists grow. When someone looks at my work and tries to sugarcoat how bad it is, I want to punch them in the face. How is that helping me? It’s not. Students and faculty at Greenville are sometimes just too nice, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings.
GC tells its students to abstain from alcohol. That’s all fine and dandy; I signed the lifestyle statement understanding what that meant. But sometimes it feels like I’m not even allowed to think about alcohol. When we go to the Student Design Conference in St. Louis every year, we get to see the work of other students. That includes their package designs for beer companies. One of the things that has stuck with me the most out of the two trips I’ve been on so far is all the beer label designs I’ve seen. They’re all so intricate and beautiful! I love looking at the product designs from other students; but then I wonder why we can’t do that. Just because we’re not allowed to partake in it shouldn’t mean that we can’t design it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the education that I’m getting in the Digital Media program. I just wish that we would do a lot less Non-Profits and a lot more well-known products. Like beer. I always feel so confined when we’re assigned a Non-profit organization that doesn’t even exist. I never feel like we have enough creative freedom with those projects. I understand that once we graduate, we’re basically stuck doing whatever the clients want, but for the time being, we’re developing our design skills; therefore, I believe that we need a longer leash on the projects we have so we can explore several different options.
Probably the biggest taboo in Greenville’s Digital Media department is nudity. Some people try to appreciate it, but they just end up feeling uncomfortable. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Loyola University in New Orleans, and it was great to see the work the fine arts students produced. We wandered into the art department, where we were greeted with much nudity. Honestly, we laughed. We shouldn’t be laughing at nudity. In the Digital Media department, I always feel silently discouraged from producing any sort of racy image. I know that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I did, but it’s never mentioned as a possibility.
Yes, you can do it. But please don’t. We’re Christian.
That’s what it feels like. GC Alum Austin Stephens shot a nude portrait series as part of his Senior Portfolio. When asked about why he did so, he said: “It’s not something you see often at a Christian College so I wanted to push the envelope and be edgy. Also, I wanted to capture the beauty of God’s creation in nature and the natural beauty of the human body.” Nudity is often portrayed as a naughty concept. As Christians, we are expected to stay modest. Nudity is a huge no-no. But we’re forgetting that God created the human figure. In paradise, Adam and Eve wore no clothes, but became aware of their nudity after the first sin (Genesis 3:7). There is no shame in the naked figure. After all, God created it! There is a difference between art and pornography, which I think some people choose not to recognize. Art depicts the human figure in a special way, while pornography is simply used as a sensation.
Another GC Alum, Maggie Tarr, was known around campus for her nude paintings. She has a beautiful style of painting with the colors she uses and the way she draws the figures. In a video interview, she states that she is simply recreating what God has already created. She wants people to look at the nude figure and be okay with it and feel no shame. That, I believe, is exactly what is wrong with the Digital Media department at Greenville. It’s never an open option or invitation, and therefore, we feel uncomfortable with artistic nudity when it is presented to us. We shouldn’t feel that shame; we should be able to look at a nude painting or portrait and be able to appreciate the artistic effort behind it instead of cringing.
Pop start Demi Lovato recently debuted a series of nude portraits while she wore no makeup in Vanity Fair. She stated that she had suffered from eating disorders through her teenage years, and she never thought that she would get to a point where she could do something like this. I don’t think that Christian should be turned off or disgusted by this; they should respect it. This is a form of art in which Lovato was able to express herself and show to the world that she is accepting who she is. The images are not meant to be pornographic in any way; they’re artistic and meaningful. Christians shouldn’t shy away from the fact that she has overcome eating disorders; they should applaud her, welcome her with open arms.
All in all, the GC Digital Media program isn’t the only entity to make nudity a taboo concept. A lot of Christian frown upon the concept of nudity in art, shaming it and disgracing those who participate in it. However, it’s not a shameful thing to do. Nudity is a natural thing. While I would feel uncomfortable actually participating in it, that doesn’t mean I would shame the art or the artist who creates it. That’s just my personal preference. Artistic nudity is beautiful, and depicts the human form in a beautiful way, and allows for freedom of expression.
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Video by Rebekah Dothager.