Art school reviews life drawing lessons amid complaints of too many white models

A leading art school is reviewing life drawing lessons after complaints that too many models are white.

The drawing of life has been “whitewashed”, claimed a collective of students from the Glasgow School of Art (GLA), and so burgeoning artists cannot learn from “the dark figure”.

Following concerns about the race of the models portrayed by the students, the main art school has pledged to address “who is looking at whom” in future life drawing classes.

The depiction of traditionally nude live models has been a mainstay of practical arts education since the Renaissance, but internal documents reveal that the GSA’s “People of Color Collective” raised the issue with school authorities complaining in an e -mail that “the drawing of life is whitewashed”.

The email from the student group added, “Students rarely have the opportunity to draw and learn from black figure in the life drawing world.”

The Collective told Student Support Services they had organized life drawings with black role models and pleaded for “more opportunities like this” to be rolled out by the school.

The group’s message claimed it could help build “recognition of the huge influence of black art and its creators within the wider Glasgow community as well as in the UK and overseas”.

School authorities said they ‘take issues of equality, diversity and inclusion very seriously’ and will seek to work with pupils to resolve any issues related to the life drawing.

A statement from the GSA said: “The GSA believes that the contemporary critical drawing studio must carefully consider who is looking at whom, how and for what purpose.

“We are working with our student association to create a forum where all issues and context of life drawing can be discussed and critically addressed.”

The GSA did not say how it would address modeling issues in classrooms, or whether quotas could be introduced to diversify the list of models at school.

The pledge comes after the GSA – one of the UK’s pre-eminent art schools along with the Royal College of Art – pledged ‘anti-racism’ in 2020 following Black Lives Matter protests UK.

Principal Penny Macbeth said at the time that the school would continue to “challenge itself and others about race, social injustice, inequality and discrimination”.

Kayleen C. Rice