I celebrated the end of my first 15-minute pose by picking up my feet and smacking them against the floor like the limbs of a mannequin, confirming their numbness to the cluster of artists gathered for Sketchy Sunday. In a few months, I’d gone from pretending to model Walmart clothes on Instagram to posing for an art department event. Even at Hillsdale, aspiring models can stumble upon work.
Contrary to my parents’ worst fears, I haven’t had to take my clothes off yet. I saw a guy posing in gym shorts for a sculpture student, but I think he was above my paygrade. Believe it or not, just about anyone can sign up to model for the art department. I got my start because Patrick Lucas, a fellow senior, texted me in the middle of his sculpture class asking if I’d “still want to model for sculpture.”
“I need it,” he said. “Your face.”
So last September I began selling my body for minimum wage, which is a lot if you’ve never held a campus job before. Every Tuesday and Thursday I’d sit on a stool for three hours while he molded my features out of lumps of clay. Associate Professor of Art Anthony Frudakis was kind enough to tolerate my incessant talking but did ask that I not do Latin homework since the sculptor needed to see my face. I obliged.
Sitting still for three hours is difficult even if you factor in the frequent breaks to discuss Led Zeppelin, ponder the stock market, and interpret Patrick’s dreams. I also made it harder by admitting my nose was crooked after he had already begun using it as a point of reference. Staring into the distance while someone analyzes every inch of your face, trying to capture your best and worst features, is also a great time to quietly wonder how awful your posture really is.
After a couple months, I received a message asking if I was available to pose for a Sketchy Sunday, where a few students who should be off writing papers choose to sit inside and draw me instead. A few signed timesheets later, I discovered that what had started out as a favor for a friend was now paying for my weekend misadventures and had cemented me in the system as a student employee.
Again, anyone can model, but there are perks to being a few toothpicks thicker than a lamppost: Turning my head into the light means instant gasps of shock as Professor of Classics Joseph Garnjobst and friends marvel at the ease with which they can draw my bony profile. I also have hardly anything to offer aside from my face, saving everyone time and energy. Just add some legs and arms the thickness of a pencil (to scale) on any given Sunday and send the piece off to the Sage gallery for fledgling couples to awkwardly pace in front of.
Until the next Sketchy Sunday, I’m just another unemployed senior. But when that time comes, I’ll be up on stage, legs numb, staring into space while a few artists attempt to align my nose with the rest of my face.