Monday, March 14, 2011

Warmenuf's Crucifixion

     In an earlier post you may see my fascination with the actual history of crucifixion, including the fact that the Romans did not allow their victims to wear loincloths - they were stripped naked for crucifixion. The loincloths you see on almost all Christian crucifixes are a product of puritanical church tradition, with no input from actual history. (And remember, in the gospels, a key part of the story is the gambling of the Roman soldiers for the clothing of the condemned.) 

     When I arrived at the sculpture studio at PAFA, 1301 Cherry St, Philadelphia, that summer, I had no idea what kind of pose the instructor had in mind. I was not unpleased when he said "crucifixion," though I knew it would be difficult. 

     Luckily, I was in better shape back then! My arms were held up by straps attached to pipes overhead. As you can see in the final photo at the bottom, I had all my weight on one foot. For twenty minutes at a time, with five-minute breaks in between, I did this pose for either five or six 3-hour class sessions. 

     Most students opted for traditional renditions, but Marcie, who is Jewish, didn't care for the crucifixion angle, so she altered the position of my arms to make it a more dance-like pose. During at least one class, I spent part of the time posing with my arms in the positions depicted in her sculpture, just for her. In conversation during one class, Marcie mentioned her pet ferrets. I asked the question she said she loved to hear: "What do you feed your ferrets." After drawing this out a bit, she finally replied "I feed them ferret food!" 

     As to the pose, it was probably the most difficult sustained pose I have ever done. My arms went to sleep each time, and were barely recovering at the end of each five-minute break. But it was worth it!

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