BARE USA Shows St. Louis — and All 50 States — in the Nude

Brian Cattelle photographed more than 100 abandoned buildings in all 50 states with a tasteful twist — each photo includes a nude model. These aren't Playboy shots; the women (and they're all women) are placed discreetly to blend in with the architecture. They are now compiled into a book, BARE USA.

When Cattelle hit Missouri in 2015, St. Louis was his first stop. As a Florida native, what struck him the most about the city he says, was the amount of blight in the city.

"I was really surprised by this one church we went to that was basically cut in half. The bricks were all strewn about, coming out of the building and then just one wall of the church was still standing," Cattelle says. "But St. Louis has a lot of history."

He stopped by the Cotton Belt Freight Depot — an abandoned building on the Near North Riverfront of St. Louis built in 1911 that is now splattered with graffiti and used for urban exploring. Although he didn't encounter much danger along his cross-country journey, he says the Depot was where he got the most sense of it.

"I saw off in the distance these three guys approaching the depot and they were a little intimidating. I saw the sun coming down, we were shooting and I thought, 'I think it's a good idea for us to get going,'" Cattelle says.

But he is no stranger to respect. While exploring these St. Louis stops, he said he tried his best to not disturb the peace of the building.

"I was kept a really low profile, not to disturb any neighbors or cause any alarm or anything," Cattelle says. "If there was ever any need for me to be forceful I wouldn't do it. I tried to maintain that kind of level of respect."

Overall, Cattelle recognizes that he is photographing two of the most cliche photography subjects — abandoned buildings and nude women. But to him it means a little more.

"On a personal level, I thought it would be a good to challenge my discomfort with nudity, the presence of it, photographing it and discussing it," Cattelle says in his artist statement. "I was not interested in the surgically enhanced, photo-shopped ideals that are force-fed through media."

During his travels, Cattelle used CouchSurfing, an app that sets you up with a local who's willing to lend their couch for you to sleep on — for free. While Cattelle was here, he stayed at a local woman's place who showed him St. Louis hospitality.

"She kind of showed me the ropes, which made it really easy and comfortable for me," Cattelle says.

Cattelle used Google Maps to research where to find these buildings, looking for overgrown parking lots and open spaces that extend a bit wider than usual.

As he left St. Louis and moved on to other cities, Cattelle says one of his only regrets is not researching more to find better, easier and greater spots.

"I think I could've found more interesting places to explore if I had been more diligent about reaching out to other people that have gone before me," Cattelle says.
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