Sammy Nickalls
May 12, 2015 9:15 am

Final exams: The bane of any college student’s existence. Maybe it’s an ultra-tricky multiple choice section that feels vaguely like life or death; maybe it’s an unbelievably long written essay section that cramps up your hand. Either way, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be up studying late into the night for finals. Sometimes, though, professors get creative. Maybe you have to do a group project (which, for some, is even worse), or create a video. But you probably have never had to get naked for your exam, right?

Yeah, you read that right. One class at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has their students take their exam . . . in the nude. The class, entitled “Visual Arts 104A: Performing The Self,” has been taught by associate professor Ricardo Dominguez for the past 11 years.

So what exactly does this class entail? The class description on the UCSD Visual Arts website explains that, “Using autobiography, dream, confession, fantasy, or other means to invent one’s self in a new way, or to evoke the variety of selves in our imagination, the course experiments with and explores the rich possibilities available to the contemporary artist in his or her own persona.” And the final exam: creating a gesture that “traces the outlines or speaks about your ‘erotic self(s).'”

Dominguez warns his students of the nature of the final exam at the very start of the class, because it’s rather personal. The 20 students in the room — as well as Dominguez himself — strip down in a dark room that’s only lit by candlelight. “The class focuses on the history of body art and performance art in relation to the question of the self or subjectivity,” Dominguez explained to 10News. “. . . The prompt is to speak about or do a gesture or create an installation that says, “what is more you than you are.”

If one is comfortable with the naked thing, it actually sounds like it would be a pretty interesting class, TBH. But what if students aren’t comfortable being in the buff? There has expectedly been a lot of controversy surrounding the class after an angry mother called the school, but the UCSD chair of the visual arts department, Dr. Jordan Crandell, has spoken up for the class. The course isn’t required for graduation, says Crandell, and being literally naked isn’t necessarily required.

“Students are graded on the ‘Nude/Naked Self’ gesture just like all the other gestures,” said Crandell in a statement provided to 10News yesterday. “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.”

Essentially, the class helps you explore yourself and define yourself outside of the normal confines of society. Nakedness is encouraged, though not required, and students are informed at the onset of class. According to Dominguez, he’s never received a complaint about the class in the 11 years he’s been teaching — perhaps because nakedness and nude models have long been staples in art classes.

“It’s a standard canvas for performance and body art,” Dominguez told ABC10. “It’s all very controlled.” Sounds like an interesting, albeit unconventional class to us . . . and definitely way different than a multiple choice exam.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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