Naked nesting: Strip bare and crawl into a mound of twigs — for art! - Brooklyn Paper

Naked nesting: Strip bare and crawl into a mound of twigs — for art!

The naked truth: Debbie Baxter’s “The Nest” project invites people to strip and embrace issues such as personal traumas and experience a sort-of rebirth in this exhibit in Boerum Hill from April 21 to 28.
Debbie Baxter

This artist wanted to help you come out of your shell — and your clothes.

Stark naked Brooklynites will curl up in a massive bird’s nest in Boerum Hill as a rebirth of sorts for participants to grapple with heavy experiences. The project, “The Nest,” running at Wyckoff Bond Community Garden through April 28, is a way for locals to strip away the modern world and get in touch with their roots in a cathartic process, said the artist behind the experience.

“The nakedness really is about going to the most vulnerable place,” said photographer Debbie Baxter, who plans on documenting participants’ experience. “It’s about stripping down and letting yourself be vulnerable, and letting yourself be held.”

The project began last summer and has toured across the country, making its way through a handful of states such as Oregon, Nevada, and Virginia. In each location, Baxter takes a few hours to weave enormous nests out of twigs, vines, or whatever else is on hand, and and then photographs nude models in a raw moment.

“I feel like I’m capturing humanity. The fragility of humanity,” said Baxter.

The experience of the models can be enlightening and transformative, she said.

“It can just be an interesting experience, but some are holding something. People hold their sexual assaults, they’re body confidence, or maybe they’re claiming their safety. It can be a symbol for different things they’re going through.”

The journey began when Baxter experimented in the backyard of her Oregon home and wove her first nest out of sticks as a way of revisiting the “womb of mother nature,” she said.

“It was a way of allowing myself to be nurtured and healed,” she said. “Then my friends started getting in the nest and it kept growing.”

Now more than 200 stark naked people have climbed into nests she’s woven across the country, each coming away with a different experience based on who and where they are. The roost is an important reminder of how despite our differences we’re all human, said Baxter.

“I love the idea of when we strip everything away we’ve all come from the same space,” she said. “And in Brooklyn there are million dollar Brownstones next to projects. So it’s a chance to strip all that down.”

In a curtained enclosure, participants disrobe and simply fall into the nest in a relaxed, comfortable position. And as they ruminate, Baxter scales a ladder and snaps photos of their curled up catharsis.

It will be a liberating experience for those who are normally camera shy — especially in the buff.

“I feel it’s very freeing,” said Baxter. “Plus, there’s never going to be another chance to get naked and hop into a bird’s nest. Embrace it.”

Wyckoff Bond Community Garden [195 Wyckoff at Bond streets, debbiebaxter.com, (503) 309-3371] Baxter will construct the nest on April 22 starting at noon. Book a time to climb into the nest from noon to 6 pm on April 27, 28, and the 30 at Baxter’s website. Or drop by for a walk-in session on April 29 from noon to 6 pm.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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