SAN DIEGO, May 11 (UPI) -- The mother of a University of California-San Diego student said she was outraged to learn her daughter was forced to perform nude for a class final.
The mother, who asked not to be named, said she was shocked to learn her daughter was told she would have to perform nude for her final in Associate Professor Ricardo Dominguez's class, "Visual Arts 104A: Performing the Self," or else receive a failing grade.
"It bothers me, I'm not sending her to school for this," the woman told KGTV. "To blanket say you must be naked in order to pass my class... It makes me sick to my stomach."
Dominguez confirmed the final involves nudity.
"At the very end of the class, we've done several gestures, they have to nude gesture. The prompt is to speak about or do a gesture or create an installation that says, 'what is more you than you are,'" he said.
The teacher clarified to the Inside Higher Ed blog that there are options for the assignment, titled "the erotic self," that don't require students to shed their clothing.
"The students can choose to do the nude gesture version or the naked version (the naked gesture means you must perform a laying bare of your 'traumatic' self, and students can do this gesture under a rug or in any way they choose -- but they must share their most fragile self -- something most students find extremely hard to do).
"The nude self gesture takes place in complete darkness, and everyone is nude, with only one candle or very small source of light for each individual performance. Each student can select where everyone will be during the performance and where the performance will take in the performance studio -- just as they are able to do for all the performances they do. A student may decide to focus on their big toe, their hair, an armpit, as being a part of their body that is 'more them than they are.'"
Dominguez, who said he has taught the class without receiving any complaints for 11 years, said students are informed of the assignment at the start of the term.
"If they are uncomfortable with this gesture they should not take the class," Dominguez said.
However, the mother said her daughter was not warned about the final until Thursday.
"Nothing was ever explained, nothing was ever stipulated prior to Thursday," she said.
Dr. Jordan Crandall, chair of the school's Visual Arts Department, released a statement Monday:
"The concerns of our students are our department's first priority, and I'd like to offer some contextual information that will help answer questions regarding the pedagogy of VIS 104A. "Removing your clothes is not required in this class. The course is not required for graduation. "VIS 104A is an upper division class that Professor Dominguez has taught for 11 years. It has a number of prompts for short performances called 'gestures.' These include 'Your Life: With 3 Objects and 3 Sounds' and 'Confessional Self,' among others. Students are graded on the 'Nude/Naked Self' gesture just like all the other gestures. 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. Dominguez explains this -- as does our advising team if concerns are raised with them. 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. "There are many comments from former students that are visible online. These comments clarify the matter quite directly. It is important to listen to students who have actually taken the class. Again, the concerns of our students are our department's first priority."