IMG_1625For the fourth time in four years, a group of more than 100 artists and models congregated in a public place in New York City — this time, it was in Washington Square Park — to demonstrate that art can take many forms, that the human body can also take many forms, that that the human body is nothing to be ashamed of, and that a naked human body can be an aesthetic object, not only or always a sexual one.

IMG_1559IMG_1650IMG_1743The artists came from all over the United States and all over the world — Japan, Russia, Latvia. Texas. Brooklyn. The models came in all sizes, shapes, ages, races, genders.

IMG_1648IMG_1679IMG_1774IMG_1513The theme this year was a broad one — just one word, Humanity. Nothing that would constrain an artist unduly, but a wonderful jumping-off point for art meant to celebrate what we have in common and our capacity for kindness, thoughtfulness, and decency.

Yes, decency — though five dozen naked bodies were uncovered in a public place, in front of thousands of passers-by, it was decency, not indecency, that was on display.

IMG_1688While some in the crowd showed confusion at first, by far the most common reaction was a smile. Some people we spoke to expressed wonder that an event like this was permitted, but they were overwhelmingly enthusiastic and supportive. A few expressed interest in coming back as models or painters next summer. And they’ll be welcomed gladly.

IMG_1622Some of our members made appearances under the paint–

IMG_1728–while for other models this was their first time standing nude in front of strangers.

IMG_1549IMG_1666IMG_1827And because this was an artistic exhibition, nude meant nude, not just topless — the ordinary restrictions on public nudity don’t apply when you’re creating art. Which meant that thousands of people got to see that a vulva or penis is just a body part like a nose or an elbow, not something you need to shield your eyes from.

(Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s awfully rare to see a penis presented in public in anything other than a hostile way, as an act of aggression or an attempt to provoke shock, fear or disgust. How wonderful to see penises in their natural state, just there between a man’s legs, doing no harm to anyone, and not meant to do any harm.)

IMG_1805IMG_1653IMG_1821IMG_1834IMG_1641Vaginas, of course, by their nature, are harder to display and to paint, but we proudly salute all our sisters and their marvelous multicolored labia.

IMG_1721IMG_1697IMG_1800But the focus wasn’t on any body part — it was on the totality of the human canvas and what art can be birthed from and upon it. We remain in awe of some of the gorgeous creations we saw, including the ones we saw on our own bodies.

IMG_1668IMG_1664And for all those of you who supported the event, or came to it, or participated in it — thank you.

We appreciate, and gratefully salute, your humanity.

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