A University of California – San Diego (USCD) professor is making waves for requiring his students to strip naked during their visual art final exam. The drama intensified after a student’s mother got a whiff of what was going on.
Speaking to the media, she lashed out at the professor’s unorthodox teaching methods. “It bothers me, I’m not sending her to school for this,” the woman told 10News .
“To blatantly say you must be naked in order to pass my class… it makes me sick to my stomach. It’s just wrong. This is a memory that my daughter is going to carry with her for the rest of her life.”
The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, broke down in tears during the phone conversation. Professor Ricardo Dominguez, who has been teaching Visual Arts 104A:
"Performing the Self at UCSD for the past 11 years, confirmed that his students do have to be in the nude during the final exam. “The class focuses on the history of body art and performance art in relation to the question of the self or subjectivity,” he explained.
“At the very end of the class, we’ve done several gestures, they have to nude gesture. The prompt is to speak about or do a gesture or create an installation that says, ‘what is more you than you are.”
He revealed that the test will involve 20 students stripping down, including himself, in a candlelit room. He called it a performance of the self. “It’s a standard canvas for performance art and body art. It is very controlled.”
In his defence Dominguez said this is the first complaint he has received in 11 years. He also added that students knew what they were signing up for at the very beginning of his course, reports Oddity Central.
“If they are uncomfortable with this gesture they should not take the class,” he stated. But the student’s mother contested Dominguez’s statement. “Nothing was ever explained, nothing was ever stipulated prior to Thursday,” she insisted.
“There is a perversion going on here. Shame on him and shame on the university.” Chair of the Visual Arts Department Dr. Jordan Crandall attempted to diffuse the situation with an official statement to 10News.
“The concerns of our students are our department’s first priority, and I’d like to offer some contextual information that will help answer questions regarding the pedagogy of VIS 104A,” the statement read.
“Removing clothes is not required in this class. The course is not required for graduation.” But the statement also clarifies the professor’s viewpoint: “VIS 104A is an upper division class that Professor Dominguez has taught for 11 years.
"It has a number of prompts for short performances called “gestures.” Students are graded on the “Nude/Naked Self” gesture just like all the other gestures.
"Students are aware from the start of the class that it is a requirement, and that they can do the gesture in any number of ways without actually having to remove their clothes.”
“There are many ways to perform nudity or nakedness, summoning art history conventions of the nude or laying bare of one’s “traumatic” or most fragile and vulnerable self. One can “be” nude while being covered,” Crandall’s statement concludes.
However, Professor Ricardo Dominguez admitted that he himself actually is nude, because he finds it difficult to stay clothed while some of his students risk taking their clothes in front of everybody.