Moving From the Explicit to the Sublime
Art Model Sun Kissed Sanaa
In her evolution as a nude model, Sanaa Kwa Mwili has explored many sides of nude modeling. Her earlier experiences as a model included posing for highly explicit and even raunch nude images, that many would think of as pornographic. When she paused and reflected on how her images may be impacting herself and others, she made a profound transition and discovered a new phase of her modeling journey, one that is far more rewarding that she had previously imagined possible.
What was your inspiration for becoming an art model?
Before creating artistic images that I could be extremely proud of, most of my work was extremely risque and borderline raunchy if not full blown explicit. One day after reviewing my portfolio I asked myself a few simple questions:
“Would you be comfortable with showing these to your parents or grandparents?”
“Are these the images you want to set an example with for your younger female siblings or young ladies period?”
The last and most important question I asked myself was, “Would these images be of any service to you currently or in the future?”
My answer to every one of these questions was “No.” I didn’t want to be lusted over. I am not an object for men to be googly-eyed over simply because I chose to tarnish my image by taking part and assisting with the over-sexualization of it. That was not who I was or what I wanted to be a part of my legacy. I found my niche in art nude modeling through the experience of creating an image that reflected the opposite of what I actually am.
Since becoming a model how would you describe your personal artistic journey?
My artistic journey has been a great experience so far. I have grown tremendously compared to the person I was at the beginning of this journey. Now I actually have standards when it comes to working with photographers and I only work with those who could help elevate me during my artistic journey rather than stifle me. I went from not getting paid for my artistic ability to being compensated for my work. I’m proud of myself for standing firm in what I believe in and valuing my talent. As a result, others have followed suit with valuing my art work just as much as do.
How is art modeling therapeutic for you?
Art modeling has been extremely therapeutic for me in many ways over the years. I am capable of expressing myself freely without judgment from anyone. I find that I create my best work when I am angry, stressed, even heart broken. Instead of allowing the stresses of life consume or get the best of me I’ve mastered a way to tame my tyrants through my art. I take that negative energy and turn it into something positive. It is the fuel to my creative fire. It allows me to co-create time less art. On set I
’m in a place of peace. I’m extremely appreciative of working with various artists who never question my artistic approach on set. They just let me be.
What do you want people to experience when they look at your work?
I want my work to provoke thought and to challenge people. I wasnt my work to inspire change within people and spark conversations that allow people to share their perspective from their view point. I want people to be captivated by the wonders of my world, therefore, leaving them with wondering thoughts and stirred feelings.
Do you have any advice to someone who is inspired to become a model?
My best advice would be to just get out there and do it! What’s the worst that could happen? I’ve found that the longer you ponder the thought of doing something, the desire to fulfill your dreams somewhat fades into the background because of self-doubt and the less likely you are to put one foot in front of the other. Turn your thoughts and desires into a reality you would be proud of. Whether an individual decides to do art/ figure modeling, high fashion, or commercial modeling, I strongly encourage you to research thephotographers and companies you are interested in working with. Research, build, and create with yourself and others. I believe it is extremely important to keep an open mind and to speak your mind when you feel that what is requested of you is immoral and could be in conflict with your self-respect and dignity. Never allow anyone to keep you in a box custom made for them just so they remain comfortable. Always remain true to yourself and fulfill your heart’s desire.
What is beauty?
The answer to that question is based upon each individual and what their definition of beauty is. Beauty for me does not focus solely on one’s physical attributes. Beauty is the way we choose to interact with people. Beauty is remaining kind, open and understanding of someone else’s view point or outlook on life. Beauty is anything capable of putting a smile on your face or making you feel good for a moment or even a lifetime. Beauty is the reflection of my soul projected onto the individuals I choose to surround myself with. Soul Beautiful. It’s the aura you’re automatically drawn to.
She has since dedicated herself to making images that are a celebration of nudity and the human form. In place of exploitation she now collaborates in making art that inspires speciation and wonder. In many ways it was her experience of the darker side of modeling that has led her to discover a new life full of creative self expression that she is truly proud of.