We all have them, but they are rarely celebrated in our competitive, image-driven culture. "They" are our bodies. Tonight, "Exposure" will reveal, celebrate, and honor all versions of the body.

"Exposure" is an exhibit designed, photographed, and curated as an independent art project by Sylvie Piquet '08 and Becca Spiro '09. Lee Colon '08, Steve Holleran '08, Madeline Sullivan '09, Frances Milliken '09, Margot Miller '10, Ellie Stevenson '10, and Maina Handmaker '11 have assisted Piquet and Spiro in the design and orchestration of the show, which focuses on the nude body and perceptions of it.

Piquet and Spiro are students in Professor Mark Wethli's Public Art class, and their work for "Exposure" has been evaluated by professors throughout its development.

The idea of public art and public engagement is integral to the understanding of the show.

"Public art is best described by what it is not," Wethli said. "It is not the art in museums and galleries. It is the works that are in public spheres and public spaces."

Rather than museum pieces that become wedded to the walls, "There is nothing static about public art," he added. In this spirit, the "Exposure" team worked hard to include its audience.

The exhibit aims to engage the artist, the subject, and the viewer in a conversation to raise awareness of the body and to promote a positive vision of a variety of bodies.

Many of the pieces are therefore created to physically engage the viewer.

"A huge part of this show is breaking down the barrier between artist, model, and viewer," said Piquet.

One project is a picture of a blown-up nude figure with the face cut out. The absence of the face allows viewers to "step in" to the depicted body. Self-portraits submitted via e-mail by Bowdoin students represent another of the show's interactive features.

The show also includes a stop-action animation that challenges the conventional setup of the nude model and the clothed artists through a progressive, visual role-reversal.

The show is a reincarnation of last year's controversial "Corpus," a show which also featured naked Bowdoin bodies.

"Rather than refuting the body image set forth by the mass media," said Wethli, "'Corpus' reinforced it by focusing on bodies that were mainly white, thin, and attractive."

Piquet and her collaborators paid close attention to this criticism and hoped to avoid similar mistakes.

The goal of this show "is not to make some people feel ugly or inadequate," said Piquet. "Instead there is a diversity of bodies, an alternative representation of the body and a focus on the often fraught parts of the body."

The body, particularly the nude body with all the issues that emanate from nudity, is a complex and universal subject matter.

Piquet explained the importance of exploring and focusing on the body.

"The body is an infinitely intriguing thing," she said. "It can be a source of a lot of power, as well as struggle and pain."

"Being naked as part of an art form often serves as a psychologically, mentally, and physically liberating experience," she added.

Both Wethli and Piquet agree there is a need to address the unhealthy image surrounding the body, which American culture promotes.

"Our society pays prurient attention to the human body," said Wethli, "and this show attempts to see past that to the natural state."

"We aim to challenge the critical relationship our culture has towards the body by providing a safe, neutral environment in which to experience it," said Piquet.

"'Exposure" aims to facilitate a space for people to engage with real bodies in a non-threatening, non-traditional way to encourage an intimate, healthy, and joyful relationship with the true physical body," she added.

"The show is meant to make people stop and look," said Wethli. "It's meant to draw attention. But it's not meant to shock. It is meant to push people past the shock and the sensationalist quality that this scintillating subject matter holds for our society."

The "Exposure" opening is tonight from 8 to 11 p.m. in Fort Andross.