“Where Do You Draw the Line?”: Working Out the Boundaries between “Art” and “Non-Art” in Life Drawing Classes

Rotem Steinbock, Yehuda C. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on participant observations in life drawing classes at an art academy in Jerusalem, this article examines the diverse ways artists-in-the-making work out the boundaries between “art” and “non-art.” First, the classes serve as a rite of passage in which actors deploy discursive, spatial, and sensorial practices to relate to and represent the live model as a unique object of art. Second, using the model evokes moral deliberations through which students attempt to articulate how an “artistic” way of seeing the body differs from other uses of an exposed (mainly female) body prevalent in society. Third, students positioned as religious others negotiate their participation in this Western artistic tradition, using their alterity to destabilize the art/non-art boundary. These various negotiations demonstrate how the “art” category and art students’ sense of an artistic self, body, and belonging are formed through a pragmatic, relational, and multifaceted boundary work.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)251-271
Number of pages21
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Ethos published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Anthropological Association.


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