Good Nudes

Ryan Hudson's artworks are nakedly intriguing

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Photographs by Ryan Hudson, Nannette Vinson and Barbara Zucker

University City Public Library, 6701 Delmar Blvd.

Friday, Feb. 1, through Feb. 28. An artists' reception takes place from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3. Call 314-727-3150 for more info on the free exhibit.

Ryan Hudson is one of those artists whose work is difficult to forget. Whether it's the film he did while a student at Webster University that involved the "stop-motion animation of roadkill" or his photo of a female nude in a parking garage with a paper bag over her head, his stuff is memorable and provocative.

It would be easy to dismiss Hudson as a junior-grade Damien Hirst, simply out to shock, except that something meaningful is going in much of his work. His photo of a policeman holding a TV with an image of a pig on it in front of his face is both funny and offensive, but look again. Isn't there a note of pathos there? Might Hudson also be saying something about the way people perceive cops? The gallerygoer's heart goes out to the insulted policeman, and that's part of the response, too.

The woman in the parking garage wearing nothing but a paper bag over her head is, believe it or not, probably his masterpiece. Yes, there's laughter here, too, and outrage; but also something much more: Is he objectifying women or commenting on their objectification? The answer is probably in the eye of the beholder. "You hear people complain about nudes that are faceless, there's no identity involved, and that's kind of what spurred that [photograph] on," says Hudson. Regardless of the gifted 26-year-old artist's intent, what he captured perfectly is the idea of modern depersonalization.

Despite his ripe creativity, Hudson is having a problem bringing many of his ideas to fruition. He needs women -- specifically, women who are willing to get naked and put paper bags over their heads. He says that local modeling agencies and art schools have yielded few souls willing to pose for his art, and people almost always misunderstand his intentions.

What a surprise -- most people just don't get it. If you're out there, Nico, a young Warhol is waiting.

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