Race, nudity make a statement at new Benton exhibit

A woman looks at a piece of art at the new exhibit at The William Benton Museum in Storrs, Connecticut on Jan. 21, 2016. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Nude and partially nude photographs, paintings, sculptures and a live male model surrounded the UConn community of students, professors, administrators and local artists at the premier of two new exhibits at The William Benton Museum on Thursday evening. They were entitled “Stark Imagery: The Male Nude in Art” and “In-Difference: Reflections on Race.”

Stark Imagery lived up to its name, making a statement about greater issues surrounding nudity in art and the overabundant nature of male versus female nudity. A shadow over the centuries, male nudity’s existence is virtually invisible compared to its counterpart. This exhibit stands now to cast a light on such content and speak out to this social construct.

“Nudity is a state of mind. For the artist who sees models or people at a swimming pool, everyone is in a state of nature that can be interpreted,” said Ashford resident Martin Bloom, after he did a sketch of the male nude model at the exhibit.

“I like that they’re exposing this. The reality is female nudity is more abundant for better or worse,” said Gil Salk, an artist’s model from Hebron, sketched by several artists during the reception and posing throughout the entire evening while wearing something a little longer than a loin cloth.

Many artists contributed to the creation of the exhibit - many pieces of which came from Robert Cosgrove, an emeritus faculty member and former head of the Studio Arts Department.

There were other highlights and exhibits, including a black and white standing profile of Queen singer Freddie Mercury.  There was even a small display case containing the comics “The Fantastic Four” and “The Incredible Hulk” that featured The Thing and The Hulk respectively on their covers.

“It’s a conversation starter about being strong in order to be noticed or listened too,” said Isaac Bloodworth, a fifth semester puppet arts major and Benton staff member about the comics. 

Premiering adjacent to Stark Imagery was In-Difference, an interactive and topical exhibit.  Two pieces greeted museum goers, one of which was a projection of statements on a wall.  One statement read “I believe everyone should be treated as equals,” while another said, “I believe the government pays too much attention to the problems of racial minority groups.”

Beside this projection were blue, yellow and red stickers for patrons to peel off and place on top these statements upon a wall.  Blue meant agree, yellow neutral and red disagree. As the evening went on the wall became very full, with several blue stickers over the equality statement.

“I think both of these exhibits are fantastic. They are creative and visually challenging and those who attended are a great cross section of the UConn community,” said Anne D’Alleva, the Dean of the School of Fine Arts.


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.