cover image Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object

Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object

Kathleen Rooney. University of Arkansas Press, $22.5 (183pp) ISBN 978-1-55728-891-2

Author, award-winning poet and professional artists' model Rooney (Reading with Oprah, Something Really Wonderful) uses everything from Roland Barthes quotations to sitcom episode synopses off the internet (specifically, on Growing Pains) to explore the myths and realities of nude modeling. Despite the fact that it largely consists of sitting still for hours on end, Rooney keeps work stories compelling: ""with the sculptors continually approaching... to rotate you slightly... it's like you're on the world's slowest and most boring Teacup Ride."" Posing for an advanced sculpting class working on life-sized renderings, Rooney merges her experience with a look at China's ancient Terra Cotta Army; elsewhere she tackles semantics, quoting art historian Kenneth Clark on the difference between ""naked"" and ""nude."" Happily, Rooney is perfectly willing to satisfy readers' curiosity upfront in order to move in more philosophical directions, going from awkward first impressions (""the first thing they ask is, 'Like, naked?'"") to questions of safety and empowerment (""I feel safer from sexual predation naked in the art studio than I do... clothed on the street""). This esoteric, organic meditation on life as an art object is itself a model of personal writing, perfect for those on either side of the easel.