Nude modeling may be publicly tsk-task’d in China, but for this man in Shanxi, posing naked has supported his family for the past 14 years.
By simply standing as still as possible in front of students for hours, Li has made a living off being a living model at the Shanxi University of Fine Arts.
Li was a premature baby who suffered from bleeding in his stomach when he was born. Doctors were able to save his life with various medications, which also left him mentally impaired. After the factory he worked at shut down in 1997, Li’s career options were restricted by his disability, and so he began his modeling career.
At first, Li was a fully-clothed model. Years later, his father passed away and his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Desperately in need of a job that earned more, Li began nude modeling for artists.
Oil painting of Li from a student
Because nude modeling is frowned upon in China, art schools often have trouble finding models for their classrooms, and offer more money to those willing to bare it all. Posing naked at the university earns Li 40 to 50 yuan an hour, meaning he can earn up to 200 yuan for four hours.
Li’s colleagues are mostly middle-aged people who are jobless and poor. Because this job is considered “embarrassing”, many choose to hide their identity. Yan Xin, one of the department heads, explained that “Some people just don’t understand. Those who do understand will see that this is a dedication to the arts.”
Li, however, loves his job. “Even though his body isn’t perfect, he’s incredibly honest, hardworking and appreciative of the arts”, says Yan.
Other than modeling, Li is also a classroom administrator at the university, which earns him around 500 RMB a month. His daughter is in elementary school and also loves art. To support his daughter’s lessons, Li decided it was worth it to dedicate his body to the arts.
[Images via China.com]
By Sharon Choi