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Mom Incensed Over 'Nudity' Requirement In Daughter's Art Class Exam

05/12/2015 11:57 am ET | Updated May 12, 2015

The enraged mother of a University of California, San Diego student says her daughter is being forced to get naked in front of her professor to pass a class, but the instructor says she misunderstands the course requirements.

The mom, who spoke to news station KGTV anonymously, said her child could fail “Visual Arts 104A: Performing the Self” if she doesn’t perform her final exam in the buff.

"To blanketly say you must be naked in order to pass my class … it makes me sick to my stomach,” the woman said on Saturday.

Her contention comes over an assignment that asks students to “create a gesture that traces the outlines or speaks about your ‘erotic self(s),'” according to the New York Daily News. The syllabus dictates that students perform "nude" or "naked."

"Everyone's going to be naked," student Ricardo Ales told KGTV. "[The woman's daughter is] not being singled out, she's not being abused, there's nothing sexual about it."

However, associate professor Ricardo Dominguez, who has taught the course for 11 years, explained to Inside Higher Ed in an email students do not necessarily have to get physically naked for the class. Instead, he said, students have the option to render themselves emotionally “bare” by sharing “their most fragile self”:

The students can choose to do the nude gesture version or the naked version (the naked gesture means you must perform a laying bare of your 'traumatic' self, and students can do this gesture under a rug or in any way they choose -- but they must share their most fragile self -- something most students find extremely hard to do). The nude self gesture takes place in complete darkness, and everyone is nude, with only one candle or very small source of light for each individual performance.

The associate professor added that “nudity has been and is a core part of the history of performance art/body art from the 20th century to now.”

Visual Art Department Chair Jordan Crandall told HuffPost Tuesday in an email that “the ambiguity around the question of ‘nudity’ and ‘nakedness’” in the context of the class is intentional. “It is intended to be provocative, to raise issues. That is what performance art does,” he said.

Crandall added that students know they have the option to not remove their clothes. He called the class “extremely successful.”

In a statement released Monday, Crandall noted that the class is not required for graduation, and that students are made aware of the requirements at the beginning of the course.

This story has been updated with further comments from Crandall.

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