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Senior Joe Pap­palardo models for the art department. Joe Pap­palardo | Courtesy

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.