Posing nude for a drawing class at the New York Academy of Art to face body acceptance. All images courtesy of Michelle Poler.
As part of her 100-day performance art piece, Michelle Poler has spent the last 80 days facing all the things she fears. In that time, the School of Visual Arts graduate student has painted a nude man in public to face her fear of awkward situations, taught a Zumba class to combat her fear of dancing in public, and posed naked to embrace her body, all for her 100 Days Without Fear project.
“I committed to challenge myself and do something truly meaningful that could potentially change my life by the end of the 100 days,” says Poler. She was inspired by a branding class at SVA that encouraged her to become fearless, explaining, “While others did things like one doodle a day, one invention a day or learning one guitar chord a day, I decided to face one fear a day, pushing myself to get outside of my comfort zone and live life to the fullest.”
Poler, who is an art director, sees the campaign as one giant artwork. “The project as a whole is my art director’s piece. I saw this as my own 360 campaign, where everything I delivered had to have creativity, design, and a strategy behind it,” says Poler. “I was able to truly engage with my audience in every way possible, making them part of this amazing and inspiring experience from the beginning.”
On day 77, Poler posed nude for a drawing class at the New York Academy of Art. “Posing nude in front of a class could be anyone’s nightmare so I decided to do it, but I wanted a professional place like the New York Academy of Art where people go because they truly care about improving their drawing skills,” she says of subjecting herself to the gaze of the practicing artists. “I started to understand that it wasn’t about me, it was all about creating beautiful drawings no matter the model or the poses. At that moment, I learned to relax.”
On day 65 of her challenge, Poler decided to jump out of an airplane, and on day 68, try her hand at trapeze. Poler captures every moment of her quest with a GoPro. You can see Poler freak out and summon the courage to complete her task. “I feel more confident,” she says. “I think all of these fears came from not trusting myself in certain situations. I thought I was going to pass out on the plane before skydiving, and I didn’t. So it is about trusting myself, mostly. I now feel more empowered to do anything I want to do.”
For her final fears, Poler will allow others to challenge her, by submitting their fears to her blog. “I truly want to enjoy these last 20 days, make the most out of them and try to reach as many people as I can, so they can start to face their own fears and live their lives to the fullest too.”
Body painting a man to face the fear of awkward situations.
Walking around NYC in my bikini to face the fear of judgement.
Teaching a Zumba class to face the fear of dancing in public.
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