When she arrived at the artist’s apartment, Reinisa MacLeod briefly got acquainted with the group, shared home-baked cookies and white wine. Then, she disappeared into another room to prepare. She freshened her makeup, put a flower in her hair and returned.
“It’s like being at the top of a hill of a roller coaster,” she said. “It’s like … ‘Here we go, this is really going to happen!'”
MacLeod, 22, first considered posing nude for sketch artists a few years ago, but her self-consciousness made it difficult.
“Growing up, I had a very, very terrible physical image of myself,” MacLeod said.
She had agreed to sit for seven artists, members of The Collective, on Feb. 18. That night, wearing nothing but a robe, MacLeod entered the room and seated herself in front of the group.
“At first, I was still a little self-conscious,” she said. “So I used the robe for a bit of draping … still visually and aesthetically pleasing.”
One of the artists, Kimberley Whitchurch, acknowledged MacLeod’s inhibition.
“She was quite shy at the beginning,” Whitchurch said. “It took her quite a long time to get her robe off. She was very clearly nervous.”
MacLeod explained how she dealt with the fear of being naked in front of a group of people.
“I just kept reminding myself this is not the worst of it; they have seen so much,” she said. “The only person that’s judging me and judging the situation is myself.”
Whitchurch acknowledged that seeing naked bodies was hardly new to a portrait artist.
“People all look the same with their clothes off, more or less,” she said.
MacLeod described what she did when she finally revealed her completely naked self.
“I took the robe … threw it in the air and there I was, so naked in front of a group of people,” she said. “I affirmed self-confidence for sure. I realized the extent of my physicality and what I’m capable of.”
Artist Nicole Little said that MacLeod not only revealed herself, but did it with flair.
“She could hold a pose,” she said. “She held a chair over her head and it was balanced. She was putting her arms up for like five minutes and holding them there and keeping the balance and not moving.”
For MacLeod, the physical demand required to hold a pose outweighed the fear of being naked.
“You get over your fear,” she said. “It seemed more almost like skill-testing … Your ability to remain still and also your ability to go beyond yourself and actually go for something that many people would find terrifying.”