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The documents collected here – photos, writing, and video – serve as a record of DeCarlis's MFA Thesis Exhibition, which was on view in the University of Florida's Gary R. Libby Focus Gallery from March 18 through April 1, 2022. To learn more about Figure On Diversity, click here.

Figure On Diversity

“More and more, I think of the body as a kind of altar. Just as we adorn and alter our bodies, we create our stories and identities. Tattoos, surgeries, hormones, jewelry — ultimately, these choices are not just about self-presentation, but about survival, self-definition and self-determination.” – Clarity Haynes

A workshop I held in 2018 became the cornerstone for a wider investigation of access, representation, corporeal empowerment, and the potential of the Queer Body as a force for societal change — and magic.

The paintings here depict individuals who began figure modeling because of Figure On Diversity programming. I worked with these models to co-create altars meant to represent invisible aspects of their identities — their bodies serve as centerpieces in these arrangements, blurring the distinction between figure and objects. Using objects as a visual-narrative device to present the subjects more wholly is precedented in portraiture historically; setting those objects in arrangements evocative of altars affirms these bodies as sacred sites. 

BustEd, a project co-founded with sculptor Morgan Yacoe, is designed to expand representation in sculptural references in the classroom, allowing students to study and work from non-Eurocentric likenesses.

Modeling Modeling is a three-volume series of guidebooks designed to standardize and make equitable the practices of figure modeling, working with models, and hiring models. With these guidebooks, and throughout the wider Figure On Diversity mission, I have set out to make representation in art accessible to all.

Leave a Drawing, Take a Drawing

You are invited to draw! You can use the materials provided or bring your own. After you’ve completed your drawing, we encourage you to swap it with a drawing left by another artist.


It’s okay if you’ve never drawn from observation before! Rather than focusing on the final product, we invite you to center yourself in the process of exploring bodies through mark-making. Art comes from the sincere experience of the artist, not from achieving a perfect likeness.


For this drawing swap, we ask that you work from people and objects in this gallery. You can draw from the plaster casts, the paintings, do a selfportrait in one of the mirrors, or draw from a model. We invite you to try posing for one another in this space, as well — your body is valuable to art education and is unquestionably worthy of representation.


Sharing your artwork here, and admiring the artwork you receive in return, will help revalue marginalized bodies in figurative art. Thank you!

Video Descriptions

  1. Figure On Diversity at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, MA. February 2020.

    Programming in support of the exhibition Boston’s Apollo, works of the young Queer Black model Thomas E. McKeller made by John Singer Sargent.

    Video and editing by Jorge Lavoy. Models for this event were: Thia Griffin-Elliott, Mel Isidor, Chelsea Pritzker, and Col Williams.

  2. Process Documentation of BustEd. Gainesville, FL. May 2021 – March 2022.

    Sculptures by Morgan Yacoe. Assistance from Sam Mendez.

    Models for this series have so far been: Eugene Agyei, Margo Bouie, and Jiahe Yao.

  3. Figure Drawing in the Parks, a GNV ART JAM. November 2021 – April 2022.

    Production by Figure On Diversity. This series is a GNV ART JAM supported by the City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs.

    Models for this series have so far been: Anaïs Edwards, Reginald Howard, LaQianya Huynh, Atia Khan, Ally Larned, Yemi Olajubu, Georg Suzuki, Jiangxin Wang, Lorenza Weaver, and Ashley Zintiz.

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