College challenges young adults to make their own moral decisions, often for the first time without the influence of their parents. Two young men’s experiences stand out for me as I reflect on times each had to decide what to do and what beliefs to follow.
One very talented young man from a conservative Christian tradition began art school with great promise. He was one with natural ability and a diligent work habit. However, after a few weeks, he disappeared from my class. Curious, I asked the Dean where the student had gone. It turned out that his religion forbade him to look at naked women. This made sense in the world at large, and I understood the reasoning. However, in an art college, Life Drawing necessitates drawing from life. In order to know the dimensions of human form, student draw from nude models.
There is nothing prurient about these classes. Models are draped when they walk to the platform to pose and are dressed during breaks. The poses are not pornographic, but illustrate such unexciting things as sitting and standing. Models are treated with respect and appreciation for their willingness to hold still for uncomfortable stretches of time while students try to draw them. Probably the worst aspect of modeling is seeing very poor renderings of their form by new students!
Sadly, the parents did not make a distinction between art school models and naked women in general. The student tried, without success, to find a way to stay in school and satisfy both his parents and his own artistic needs. He chose to respect his parents and withdrew from the college. I never heard about him after that. I hope that he found a way to use his artistic talent in other ways.
Tomorrow another student wrestles with a moral dilemma.