Since my research is taking an eternity to compute (ahh, statistical software) I thought I'd post a follow-up to my email to my professor.
My professor was quite considerate, and addressed my concerns; he actually summed up my worry as a concern about priestcraft, which I thought was an interesting take. He reassured me that my grades would NOT be based on coerced risk, and also conducted a class discussion on the topic. As it turns out, what I was worried about is not only unethical, it is also entirely illegal. Anyway, I was more than satisfied - impressed, even - with my teacher's response, and am enjoying the class.
On a side note, I have submitted a poem to a BYU creative writing journal, and will this evening submit the same poem to "Third Coast" creative writing journal. The poem is rather edgy; I intentionally used some imagery that some find offensive or disgusting. I think the overall effect can be uplifting, however, and that was the point.
I think it fits on the last part of this post, by Cassandra Barney, on art (specifically, her quote that one must expose something vulnerable for art to happen). Like her painting, my poem is a little edgy for an overall benefit; though I must admit this type of art (both her painting and my poem) pose something of a problem for me. I had a long discussion with a friend about the poem; she called it "harsh art." My question is this: is there a place for a painting of a naked woman in modern LDS art? I think so, but the tougher question then becomes: where is the line between nude art, or harsh art, and pornography?