I get this question a LOT though inevitably in various formats. This can range from the cerebral minded individuals who understand my respect and awe of the human body as one of natures most magnificent works of art to the deeply ignorant, repressed folks who call me all kinds of things like predator and pervert, or worse.
Regardless of the intolerance, slings and arrows and persecution... I persist. In today's political and social climate and in spite of the probability that someone may try to make a quick buck by crying impropriety during a session... I believe that celebrating the human form in the Arts is just as valid and noble a pursuit as it has been throughout all of time.
In an article written by Maude Bass-Kruger for Google Arts and Culture I read the most succinct, unapologetic reason for nude art: "the basic reason for wanting to depict unclothed figures has remained constant over time: the human body is a wonderful sight to behold, both clothed and unclothed." (click the quote for the whole article. It's a short, concise and informative read.)
Besides the historical precedent for presenting the nude form in Art there are social and political reasons as well. Today's world is in chaos. Everyone is on edge, looking at each other side eyed, paranoid, questioning everyone's motives for every little action. We can barely look, speak to or casually touch one another without wondering if we'll be perceived as a predator.
What's my take on finding balance in this turmoil? Beauty. Always combat ugliness with beauty. The unadorned human body is the most basic yet resplendent of all forms of beauty. It's a beauty we all possess, can understand and appreciate if we allow ourselves to and the human body is something that unites us all. We all have one! What could be more unifying? What denominator could be more common than the fact we all not only have bodies but all of the emotional baggage that goes along with how we feel about them?
Politically there are some very good reasons to create Art of the human body. A form of protest against the misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, hypocritical, sexist buffoonery that seems to be in control of our country right now. In this geo-political climate I believe it is the duty of the Arts to remind us that we are a connected people, we are not as separate as we would have ourselves believe. If we add our unique strengths and voices to the fight then tyranny doesn't win.
Oxford Bibliographies reports that Social Protest is as such: "Social protest is a form of political expression that seeks to bring about social or political change by influencing the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of the public or the policies of an organization or institution. Protests often take the form of overt public displays, demonstrations, and civil disobedience, but may also include covert activities such as petitions, boycotts/buycotts, lobbying, and various online activities." Article Link. Also "(protests) serve a number of important democratic functions, including providing opportunities for participation and expression for individuals, and as a potential engine of social change for communities and nations."
The key words to describe Social Protest for me are "expression", "social change" and "influencing".
It's simple. In my opinion one of the largest issues this country faces is the puritanical, self righteous, indignant and bull headed belief that pleasure is sin. That bodies are inherently evil and corrupt. That freedom of expression and beauty are insubordinate at worst and silly or inconsequential at best.
Have you ever seen a post-apocalyptic-dystopian-future movie? (1984, Hunger Games, Mad Max, Blade Runner, etc) There are so many and do you realize one of the traits they share? Art has died. Beauty is irrelevant, people are controlled, thoughts are policed and originality is either widely criticized or even punishable.
I was put on this earth for a reason. I have gifts, talents and abilities for a reason. I will use these to do my part in being a voice of reason, understanding and forward thinking. I will use the Arts to fight back the darkness of tyranny and oppression.
Let's be a Legion of Superheroes who combine our super powers to keep Art and Beauty alive!