ELLE, YOU DO MORE THAN TAKE PICTURES?!
I know, I know. It’s a shocker.
This past year away at school I was thrown into the admittedly terrifying realm of mediums other than my beloved photography.
I’ll have to make another few posts of my drawing/2D design work from my first semester, but the spring semester held with it the smell of oil paint in the morning and more oil paint at night.
I was convinced painting would be the death of me (it very well may be, too many un-bathed nights slathered in lead paint) and it was not easy for me to get into. I actually detested the first few weeks, probably because they were filled with acrylic paint which I’ve learned is not my thing.
But as the semester went on, I grew to love my late nights in the studio covered in paint, only to be back there again after a few hours of rest.
These were my last few pieces, that made their way into the contemporary art class’s gallery show the last week of classes.
Prepare for a bunch of artist statements and in-process talk, feel free to skip down and look at these pretties instead.
"No Butts About It"
40” X 40”
Oil on Canvas
The sexualization of body parts has a much more profound effect on a person than merely unnecessarily highlighting specific parts of them as the focus of sexual desire. It pushes something that was once mundane and frankly insignificant into a realm of unreachable expectations surrounded by unwarranted remarks, feelings and personal inclinations. “No Butts About It” has intimately followed, uncovered and depicted the effects of not only the unwanted sexualization of body parts, but also the influence that socially accepted norms of what is “beautiful” and “attractive” have had on one’s body image and feelings about oneself. Crafted of oil on canvas, this piece hopes to elect feelings in the viewer that may be brushed aside and unacknowledged on a day to day basis. This piece challenges the viewer to ask the question, “Why do we accept these things as ‘normal’?”
How this piece came to be:
I was assigned a self-portrait for our last 2 week span project of the semester (yes I painted this 40x40 monstrosity in 2 weeks), but seeing as I’d just finished one of those (Vulnerability) I decided to pull a different take on it. I figured my backside would be a good place to start, seeing as it frequently garnered comments. As a popular theme in most of my work, I wanted to create a piece that showcased that bodies are just that: hunks of flesh, muscle, cells all there to support us and keep us safe. I wanted to show real bodies, no photoshop, no fancy lighting, just straight up natural bodies. However, through the process I realized that this was deeper rooted than I thought.
As I shared in-process shots I actually received exact opposite reactions than the piece was intended to evoke. I got over-sexualized and some frankly just straight offensive comments on how my body looked/what people wanted to do/ was that real life/ etc etc. So that changed the course of the piece as I continued working on it.
I also reached out to friends and the extended friends on Facebook for some real life straight up booty pictures to use anonymously in my piece as to represent real bodies in an unsexualized format. The backlash I received from that wasn’t what I was expecting either. People weren’t hesitant to send me pictures of themselves based on the context, it was more about how they felt about THEMSELVES that hindered them from sending booties my way. And the most unexpected part? Most of this hesitation came from men. That’s right, half those background booties are male. I was not expecting that reaction from anyone either, so that sent it spinning in a whole new direction.
ANYWAY, this whole self-ashamed, over-sexualized while trying to be unsexualized fiasco brought this piece to where it is today: an interactive piece with real-life first-hand experiences.
At the opening, I left a prompt, some transparencies, sharpies and sticky tack at a table next to this piece and the rest is history. No Butts About It.
14” x 20”
Oil on canvas
Artist Statement / How it came to be:
This piece is inspired by Frida Kahlo’s Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird as per a modern artist assignment. Through this I learned all about skin tones and how waiting until three nights before it’s due isn’t the way to fly with oil paint. Also, that wrinkles are hard. REALLY HARD. This one will probably never actually be fully completed either, but I’m okay with that because it’s pretty self-reflective. And I’ll just leave it at that with this one.
Mixed Media: oil paint, acrylic paint, glitter, found book, ink
Artist Statement: “Take a walk with me, into the naked nebula. Who knows what is to be found in there.”
How it came to be: Lots of improvisation and an old book from the early 60s.
"The Girls Next Door"
Two 12” x 12” oil on canvas
Artist Statement: Ever wonder what those girls next door are up to? Giggles resonate between your houses, but you can never quite catch a glimpse. All you are left to do is ponder, “What are those two girls up to?”
How it came to be: The discovery that my best friend and I look strikingly similar naked. Have fun trying to determine who’s who.