Posts tagged Body
A Quiet Revolution: Interview with Martin Beck
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I want my work to reflect this through the study of the nude form as something that uplifts our experience of being human. This is not prescriptive art and does not have the power to change the world. But it might help spark a quiet revolution in one’s own experience.
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Martin Beck is a figurative artist best known for large pastel and mixed media paintings of the nude human form. These drawings often contain palimpsests – ghost figures from previous drawings - that evoke half-forgotten dreams or alternate realities. 
Beck has exhibited widely with solo shows at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH and the Jersey City Museum, NJ and most recently at ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL. Recent group exhibitions include Mixed Media at Site:Brooklyn, New York, NY and Art Connections 13 at George Segal Gallery, Montclair, NJ. His exhibitions have been reviewed in The New York Times and The Sunday Star Ledger. 

In 2019 Beck’s work will be included in the publication International Drawing Annual 13, Manifest Press, Cincinnati, and the Create Magazine Winter print edition. An interview with the artist is currently live on VoyageChicago.

Martin Beck received two New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships (1994, 2000). Beck holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Cum Laude, from State University of New York at Buffalo. In April 2009 Martin Beck participated in the two-week residency MMMart, medana.art pomlad in Medana, Slovenia. 

Martin Beck’s work solo exhibition pal•imp•sest(2): bearing traces of earlier forms is currently on view until March 30, 2019 at MS Rezny Gallery, Lexington, KY.

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What is your creative process like? You tend to work on prepared paper. What do you typically do to prep a sheet of paper?

I’ve recently gotten involved with the process and the nature of materials. My main tools are chalk pastels, brushes, a random orbit sander, sanding blocks, atomizers and sometimes a garden hose. Mark making is an important element as I build up the surface over time through multiple life drawing sessions. I’m interested in creating a visceral experience for the viewer and provide a journey into the art-making process.

There are two methods I use to start a piece. The first begins with a drawing from life on a blank sheet of paper. This could be a sheet of gesture drawing or some other result of a life drawing session. These drawings are often incomplete. So, after the session, I manipulate them – prepare them by applying water or pigment (usually both), or sand them, apply to spray paint and let them dry in the sun on a textured surface. This provides a rich ground to work on.

The second method involves preparing the paper with various media: gouache, dry pigment, graphite, spray paint and acrylics. After either of these two methods, I’ll have a toned piece of paper with arbitrary marks and color that seem like abstract paintings.

I use this paper in life drawing sessions using some of the accidental marks, color, and texture as information to enhance the act of drawing. I respond to the paper almost as much as to the model. A resulting unsuccessful drawing on prepared paper might be further manipulated by obscuring the image with water, medium, and sanding. In those cases, the ground becomes quite thick with layers of color and texture. The final piece is more like a painting than a drawing.

As a result of all the layers, these works on paper often contain palimpsests – ghost figures from previous drawings - that evoke half-forgotten dreams or alternate realities. Or, as the 4th-century philosopher Augustine of Hippo wrote: “A present of things past, a present of things present and a present of things future.”

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What about the human form inspires you?

I am fascinated by the Neue Sachlichkeit artists of pre-World War II Germany. Their work was informed by the experience of the First World War, the turmoil of Germany society at the time and the dehumanizing aspects of new technology. We are living through a similar time with our own seemingly endless wars and terrorism, climate change and income inequality, gun violence, racism, and bigotry.

We are distracted from our lives through the ubiquity of social media and the hand-held device. We are jaded, selfish, insensitive and addicted to convenience and immediate gratification. It seems like society has a metabolic disease.

So, we are living in a difficult and interesting time. I want my work to reflect this through the study of the nude form as something that uplifts our experience of being human. This is not prescriptive art and does not have the power to change the world. But it might help spark a quiet revolution in one’s own experience. I want my work to help “express and overcome our humanity” (a quote that I, unfortunately, can’t attribute).

I’ve written elsewhere that our bodies are road maps of our individual experience. Part of that is the model’s self-expression. Hairstyle, tattoos, piercings, body hair or lack of, makeup or lack of are all clues to their identity. My work also then presents an emphatic confirmation of personality and a space to contemplate and celebrate humanity in all its variety.

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How has your style and technique evolved over the years?

I’ve always been a figurative artist because of my fascination with people and how we live in our culture. My work used to consist of large multi-figural paintings with social and political themes, based on photos and invention.

These were demanding pieces to make, made more difficult since I have Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), an autoimmune arthritic disease. For years I was able to control it using over-the-counter drugs, but when the disease intensified in 2012, I had to make some changes. Standing or sitting at the easel for extended periods is no longer possible. I’m currently focused on drawing and painting from life in two to four hours long sessions with the model. These sessions are challenging, but the level of intense observation and control necessary allows my body to “fall away". It’s like moving meditation. And focusing on another person in this way is uplifting and liberating.

These physical limitations also have me working in a more quick and loose way. The tight control I used to exercise isn’t possible. I’ve had to “let go” and let the cosmos help me draw through accidental mark making. As a result, there is a certain amount of surrealism and abstraction in my work.

I’ve also developed a sense of how ephemeral our experiences are. Working from life is like trying to capture time. The materials I use are fragile. The paper, pastel and water media are supple and vulnerable.

I’ve come to believe that the nude speaks most directly of the human condition. To study another’s face and form is to understand their essential humanity: their frailty and imperfection. My own arthritic condition has allowed me to see more of these qualities in the others. I’ve also found that if you study anyone with the level of intensity my kind of figurative work requires, you see their beauty and strength as well.

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What is your favorite thing to focus on when you are drawing someone?

In a way, I am more concerned with the act of drawing than the finished piece. Just as people are complex the attempt to depict them involves many variables. I try to let the figure emerge from the ground and let the model’s presence inhabit the prepared paper. It is remarkable how palpably present the model is once you begin to draw them.

The model often looks inward as they try to hold a pose. Some of that inwardness is outwardly expressed, not only in their face but also in their body. I’ve come to think of these pieces as portraits, even when the face isn’t visible or there is no likeness.

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How have you overcome setbacks in your career?

There are times when it’s difficult to deal with the career aspects of art-making, especially in a society that prizes money-making above all else. But I recall that the opportunity to make art is a privilege. Having a voice in our society through art even more so, and as such a responsibility. In my practice, the concern is not with the finished piece but the experience of art-making. For me each piece is like a journey – and I feel a responsibility to share that with my audience.

The act of drawing expands outward into other parts of my life. Whatever happens, is part of the larger journey of trying to be in the moment. This attitude is in part informed by my AS, which has forced me to deal with physical limitations. Despite treatment, it’s a disease that waxes and wanes and so the other shoe is always about to drop.

Tessa Miller wrote recently in the New York Times about having a chronic disease that “…your relationship with yourself changes. You grieve a version of yourself that doesn’t exist anymore and a future version that looks different than you’d planned.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/18/smarter-living/five-things-i-wish-i-knew-chronic-illness-crohns-disease-ibd.html)

And maybe that’s the source of my current fascination with the nude – to capture the artist and model in such a fleeting moment so that the four-hour session endures. Despite inherent fragility.

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What are you up to in 2019? Anything we should be on the lookout for?

My solo exhibition pal•imp•set(2): bearing traces of earlier forms currently on exhibit at 
MS Rezny Gallery is an exciting event for me as it is my first solo show in my new home town, Lexington, Kentucky. Seventeen recent works will be on display through March 30.

A two-person show at the Lexington Art League tentatively titled The Present of Things Past will be on view July 26 – August 23. This exhibition of figurative work by myself and Brandon C. Smith should have interesting juxtapositions and intersections. Brandon and I both run life drawing sessions here in Lexington. His on Thursday nights at the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts and my Sunday afternoon in my studio.

Two somewhat unusual pieces will be on display at the One Shot exhibition at Manifest Gallery March 8-April 5 in Cincinnati, OH. This show features works done in one sitting and my works on paper generally evolve over time. These two pieces came together in one session.

My work is also included in the publication International Drawing Annual 13, Manifest Press, Cincinnati, available mid-2019.

An interview with images is currently live on http://voyagechicago.com/interview/art-life-martin-beck/

Please visit https://www.spondylitis.org/ for more information about Ankylosing Spondylitis and related chronic arthritic diseases.

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Andrea Taylor

Andrea makes work in an attempt to satisfy an obsession with visceral responses to visual art. She seeks to access the power and the vulnerability of the feminine embodied experience, creating works for her own exploration and, equally, to engage in conversations with other works and with the body and mind of the viewer.

Andrea’s sculptures are, in a way, self-portraits as the artist continues to attempt the impossible – to show what it feels like to live in a body. These abstract figures have grown out of years of drawing and painting the 19th century Serpentine Dance stills from Loïe Fuller’s dance performed by an unknown dancer and filmed by the Lumière Brothers. Titles often reference the body or dance and movement. Andrea thinks of the abstract figure – a stand in for her own figure – as picking up bits and pieces from the various times she travels through. These are evidenced in the drawn marks, painted areas and sections of fabric and needle felting.

There is a sense of time shown through artist’s hand evident in the work and the process of its creation. The artist turns the sculpture as she works on it, responding as much as a painter as a sculptor in her sense of composition and form - the embodied mark intentionally left by the trace of her hand.

Andrea holds an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She completed a Spring Intensive artist residency at Banff Centre, May 2017, and two collaborative artist residencies with Margery Theroux at Anvil Centre August 2017 and at Miranda Arts Project Space in Port Chester, NY in 2015. She had solo shows in 2016 at Malaspina Printmakers and at Back Gallery Project in Vancouver. Andrea teaches Continuing Studies at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver.

"Body Rock" Exhibition at Central Tattoo Studio

Central Tattoo Studio and Create! Magazine are pleased to present the opening of a group exhibition titled "Body Rock".

The show includes the work of five artists inspired by tattoo culture. This exhibition includes work by artists that interpret the theme by using their unique style, subject and creative approach. 

Opening: September 22, 6pm

Where: 

Central Tattoo Studio

171 W Girard Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19123

Exhibition dates: September 1 - October 28, 2018 

About Central Tattoo Studio

Central Tattoo Studio is a fine art forward, custom tattoo studio in Philadelphia, PA. Our first floor gallery space features rotating exhibitions from local and emerging artists whose work bridges the gap between fine art and tattoo work. Our second floor tattoo studio hosts tattoo artists with a strong understanding of the foundations of fine art; color, form, line, space and composition. Our tattoo artists specialize in watercolor tattoos, abstract/graphic tattoos, geometric tattoos and black and grey realism tattoos.

Participating Artists

Tracy Kerdman

I was born in Huntington, West Virginia. A city now known as the heart of the opioid epidemic. At the age of five I moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I studied painting at the College of Charleston where I earned a BA in Studio Art. In 2010, I moved to New York to continue my study of painting at the National Academy Museum and School and MoMA, where I would take extensive lecture classes. My paintings have been exhibited in Germany, Canada, New York and throughout the United States, from the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles, to the Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, Florida. I live and paint in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC with my husband.

My work largely draws from the cultural inconsistencies of my background of growingup on the Grand Strand of South Carolina, a place recognizable for its hospitality, and paradoxically, its bigotry. Figurative painting is what drives my interest and helps me to explore contradiction and anxiety buried in normalcy. The work aims to be familiar and within the realm of conventional, figurative oil paintings only at first glance. Working within the context of traditional representational work and portraiture, the goal is to create something unsettling and more disconcerting than an academic, technical representation.

www.tkerdman.com

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Brandi Merolla

Born: NYC

BFA: Photography & Drawing, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.

Art Director Tower Records 4th St./Broadway, NYC 1983-1986.

Merolla Displays; Custom 3D foam-core displays for record companies, FAO Schwarz, Howard Stern Show. 1986-2018.

The ritual art of tattooing has been practiced since ancient times. Then in 1876 Thomas Edison invented the "Electric Pen" in the age where electricity began to make it's way into our culture. Famed tattoo artist Samuel O'Reilly then used this new modern invention to tattoo in NYC. 

At that time, mostly sailors got tattooed. They had their bodies marked with patriotic, nautical and religious symbols. For the next few decades tattoo designs expanded to include memorial, sports and romantic symbology to a broader audience.

In my new body of artwork, I take tattoo flash from the years 1900-1940 and I blow them up from 2" high drawings to 3'-4' high 3D foam-core sculptures. I stay true to these primitive line drawings and make them larger than life just as they are remembered historically. My reverence for these original designs explains the scale shift. 

https://www.scenesfromtheattic.com/tat-art

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Brandon Straus

My paintings are a visual dialogue about the contemporary and historical relationships between art and commodity fetishism. With respect to traditional subject matter such as still life, interiors, and portraiture, my paintings explore the material world and question their current cultural implications and narrative potential. Modernism, fauvism, and orientalism mingle in my compositions in flattened rendering, brush stroke and color, and still life objects. 

My source images come from online shopping, design magazines, social media, and personal objects. In their combination they create a visual archeology of personal identity. My compositions use vocabulary that addresses themes of queerness, Judaism, and historical modern painting with humorously self-aware nonchalance.

https://www.instagram.com/brandon_straus/

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Mishal Weston

Mishal Weston (1988) is a Zimbabwean born designer and artist based in Cape Town, South Africa.

As I walk through the streets or meander down the beach, my eyes wander from side to side looking for little treasures to collect. Things that are beautiful in my eyes, but that some may find strange. Through a shifting lens, I capture objects from a different perspective, looking closer than most seeing more than the naked eye would care to take in.

But then I look up and see the marked collections of stories adorned on flesh. Stories that within their marks tell a story, each line, dot and shadow overlaying a crease, a blood vessel, a mole or even a story past and now covered. Now collecting the collectors.

https://www.instagram.com/mishalweston/

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Julianne Merino

Julianne Merino (1991, Hickory, North Carolina, United States) is a New Orleans based visual artist. Combining sewing, collage and painting, Julianne juxtaposes the process of painting, that has a predominantly masculine history in western art, with sewing –considered women’s labor. She graduated from Pioneer Valley Performing Arts with a concentration in costume design in 2010 and with a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art + Design in 2014. Julianne has worked as a printmaking instructor and as a journalist of art in New Orleans. 

I take dolls very seriously. I started making paper dolls from magazine cut-outs and scraps of fabric as a child. Using these materials as an adult, my work reimagines the definition of what a doll is. As marionettes, paintings, or collages, these female figures sit waiting for something to happen to them.The passive female figure is an enduring theme from old master paintings to fashion magazines to vintage pin-ups. 

I work on translucent vellum, painting, collaging & sewing from front and back to create layers with a distorted sense of depth, reminiscent of skewed perspective from the medieval period. A visual hierarchy emerges that subverts traditional power structures. Rather than a scene the viewer might step into, these landscapes feel more like a reverie, replete with all the non-linearity of a sleepy-eyed subconscious. 

Through collage, I juxtapose classical symbols and quotidian commercial imagery, challenging culturally inherited assumptions about femininity. The disharmony between these two extremes allows me to critically explore and decode their meanings & create a cipher of personal iconography. 

Sewing & embroidery, which I first learned from my mother, has historically been women's work passed down through generations. I have expanded my craft amid costuming culture in New Orleans, specifically learning from the work of a Mardi Gras Indian chief, and now employ these materials as a visually stark departure from my collage and painting, an art form dominated by men throughout western art. I engage these mediums to complicate gender dynamics of not only theme, but process. 

I will further develop my process, including threading into paper, printing onto fabrics, and deepening the relationship between textile and mixed media works. I want to focus on making interactive pieces, like marionettes, and sculptural work. I’d like to incorporate family heirlooms, sewing and putting them into new works, creating a sense of femininity through generations. I want to juxtapose this familiarity and intimacy with the dark, satirical, & extraordinary imagery of Mardi Gras culture. 

I’d like to create tapestries and/or wearable art that combines embroidery and 2d imagery, reminiscent of secret fraternal banners, but through the classic iconography of women throughout different history/ religions. What if women had their own secret orders? What would their traditions and symbols be? I’m drawn to this double standard because secret fraternal orders were considered to be wise and ritualistic, whereas women were considered to be heretics and witches. These were the archetypes that capitalism had to destroy. 

Using embroidery looms, silk-screening and beading, I’d like to create 3d fabric pieces, reminiscent of medieval hell mouths and the faces on old Mardi Gras floats. Creating pieces that viewers can interact with is important to me, whether through puppetry, wearing, or unveiling something hidden under a piece of cloth.

This residency is an opportunity for growth — not just spatially or methodically, but also a growth in the sense of community. I feel excited thinking about this residency as a chance to be surrounded by like-minded and supportive people. 

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A. Laura Brody

A. Laura Brody sculpts for the human body and its vehicles. Her sculptures are conceived with a commitment to social justice and are inspired by art history and the spirit of scientific discovery. Her belief that disability should not mean a loss of beauty has lead to “Opulent Mobility”, group exhibits comprised of art, designs, and creations dealing with and reflecting on disability and mobility. The 2015 and 2017 exhibits were co-curated by the disability activist and historian, Anthony Tusler. Brody gave a talk on the exhibits and their creation for the DisArts Symposium last spring, and took part in a panel discussion on the Spectacle of Accessibility at UCLA’s Disability as Spectacle conference.

A. Laura Brody has 30 years of professional costume making, designing, and teaching experience. She’s taught at FIDM and in independent classes. Brody’s re-imagined wheelchairs and walkers were shared by Frances Anderton on NPR and on The Improvised Life. Her professional career and her passion for reuse and sustainability gave her the skills she needed to create these artworks. 

Carly Bodnar

I paint images of the body; my current work explores the intersection of women’s bodies in particular with the conflicting demands of society. I am interested in depicting the body representationally to access its utility as a vessel, shorthand, or instigator for emotional and cultural baggage. In depicting the female form, I work within a tradition that has historically centered male gaze and desire. However, I do not seek to create docile, sanitized, and sexualized images that exist to satisfy those ends. Rather, I question the standards set forth by this tradition and its legacy in media representations of women.

Carly Bodnar received her BA from Portland State University in Oregon and continues to maintain art connections on both the East and West coast, having shown work in Portland, Los Angeles, and New York City. Her work has been juried into shows by pop-surrealist icon Ron English and the Seattle Art Museum’s Barbara Shaiman. She was awarded an Artist Grant from Vermont Studio Center in 2017 and named one of Brooklyn Art Council’s Featured Artists in 2013. Her work has been published in Average Art Magazine and Period. Sex. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Studio Sundays: Lindsay Hall

A West Coast native, Lindsay Hall is an interdisciplinary artist currently making art in Las Vegas, Nevada. She received a MFA in painting from Indiana University in 2016, as well as a BA in painting and drawing (2012) and a BA in journalism and media studies (2010) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work has been exhibited nationally at venues such as the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the Janet Kurnatowski Gallery (New York), the New Hampshire Institute of Arts, Kent State University (Ohio), Indiana University, the Target Gallery (Virginia), and Fort Works Art (Texas), and is featured in Volume 38 of Studio Visit magazine and Issue 2 of Hiss Mag. She has co-curated group exhibitions in Indiana and New York. Lindsay received the Ilknur P. Ralston Memorial Award in Visual Arts in 2016. She recently completed the Post-Graduate Residency Program at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia and is currently preparing for a solo exhibition at Hillyer in Washington, D.C. in February 2019.

Statement

I create colorfully titillating works that engage the notions of pleasure, beauty, and the perverse as they relate to the body, sexuality, and the intimacies and vulnerabilities of human interaction. The resulting pieces and installations fantasize these shared human experiences, often sugarcoating shame and disgust with a provocative playfulness.

The works are sensuous in nature, often provoking haptic responses. Desire and temptation play central roles in experience and interaction. The forms are reminiscent of bodily orifices, luscious fleshy lumps, and confections. Superficially, the pieces serve as eroticized eye candy, but further inspection suggests the layered innuendos and the juicy persuasions.

A Shared Narrative: Interview with Lauren Rinaldi

Lauren Rinaldi's work inhabits the space where objectification, female power and sexual empowerment intersect and blur. She uses oil paintings, mixed media drawings and sketches as her vehicles to explore ideas about intimacy, gaze, body-image, sexuality and self-Identity. She looks to the women in her life for inspiration and works to weave their experiences with her own to create a shared narrative. Through observing the nature of women seeking affirmation under the guise of anonymity online, she also is informed by the influence social media has on female identity and how detachment from the depictions of the reality of the self affects and reveals who women desire to be.

Lauren was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1983. She received her BFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art in 2006. She is represented by Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and currently resides in Philadelphia with her husband and son.

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Tell us about your background. Were you always interested in painting the female form?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY, spent my teenage years in Lancaster County, PA, moved to Philadelphia to attend college where I earned my BFA in painting from Tyler School of Art and have been a resident ever since. I am a full time artist, full time mother of a ten year old and two cats, wife, part time yoga teacher and what usually feels like a million other things.

I’ve absolutely always been interested in painting the female form. I think it came from me trying to make sense of how my own body has, in a way, defined who I am. Painting is my way of parsing out what it means for me to be a woman and thinking about the roles women play, the expectations, the currency of our bodies and our sex and how to both embrace and navigate the gift of womanhood.

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Who are the women in your paintings and drawings? What is their story and how do you come up with the reference images.

The women are me. That’s not something I usually come outright and say, for a lot of reasons, but they are. They’re me and they’re not me and when they really aren’t me, they’re still me. My story isn’t unique or special, but in my work I get to direct it. I stand outside of the frame and inside of it, so there’s no hierarchy and I hold the power.

I usually take my own reference photos or I ask women to send me their own photos and the narrative tends to revolve around reflection, voyeurism and the fluidity of private and public moments. In college I would take my photos with a disposable camera and have them developed at Rite-Aid or CVS (which in and of itself was an… interesting experience), but smart phones have really changed my process. Often times I set my phone up and just record myself doing mundane things like showering or getting dressed and later I go through the videos taking hundreds of screen shots to work from those. Historically, women have been depicted inanimately, so I like to elicit my references from an activated body; it feels more sensual and real to me. So the story isn’t always a specific narrative, but more of a sizing up, looking, assessing and reassessing, peeking, revealing, concealing and evaluating oneself and where and how she fits into a broader context.

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What do you hope to show the viewer about the female identity in today's culture?

The day before the Women’s March this past January, I shared work on social media and I was immediately suspended from Facebook and the image was removed from Instagram. So one of the signs I made to carry the next day read: My nipples violate your community standards. The fact that I, a cis white female, exist unapologetically in my body is controversial and offensive to some in the year 2018. Reactions like that occasionally fuel my work, because I think it’s worth exploring the boundary lines of what is deemed acceptable and what crosses over to vulgar or worthy of censorship. So like most artists, I just want the viewer to feel something, whether that is feeling is discomfort, pleasure, numbness, etc. when they look at the art I make and to question why it makes them respond that way and for them to think about what of themselves they brought to the experience that affects their interaction with the work.

Tell us about a typical day in the studio. How do you prioritize and balance your time?

On a typical day I wake up by 7am and drink about half of a pot of coffee while I answer emails, do bookkeeping things and make lists. Next I’ll either do some sketching to warm up, plan my next piece(s), I’ll prepare some surfaces or I’ll jump right into whatever painting I’m working on. I’ll spend the next few hours working while listening to too many political or murder mystery podcasts and continuing to drink my perpetually cold coffee that I keep reheating and forgetting about. I’m always working on multiple paintings so, depending on what deadlines I have coming up or what needs to dry or how I’m feeling, I’m able to jump around and I never really feel stuck because I have something else to work on. I work until the very last minute and then I run out of the house and pick my son up from school. If there’s time after I take care of general life things, homework, sports practice, dinner, etc. and before I teach yoga in the evenings, I might sneak back into my studio and work some more. As a mom it can be difficult to balance my time and my son and his needs always take top priority, but having to compartmentalize every hour of my day actually helps me to be more efficient in the studio. I know I have a certain time frame in which I absolutely have to be productive.

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Name a few contemporary female artists that you look up to.

Ahh, there are so many! Lisa Yuskavage, Inka Essenhigh, Amy Sherald, Carolee Schneeman, Gina Beavers, Rose Freymuth-Frazier, Jenny Saville, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Ghada Amer to name just a few. My local artist friends I know in real life grinding every day and make great art are a huge inspiration, as well.

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What do you feel artists need to do more of in order to raise awareness of today's cultural and political issues?

I would just encourage artists to be courageous and not shy away from addressing issues they feel strongly about. To me, art making is about creating an environment of empathy and, it turns out, empathy can be quite contentious and polarizing, which makes art inherently political. I believe art and politics by nature can’t be separated and that it’s our job as artists to process the world in which we live in a deliberate manner, cognizant of the context of our work and its pertinence to whatever current cultural issues we’re facing.

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What are you currently working on and what's next for you?

Right now the majority of my studio time is being devoted to working on a new body of mostly oil paintings for my upcoming summer solo show at Paradigm Gallery + Studio here in Philadelphia. I’m excited about the paintings I’ve got in the works and I’m also looking forward to finishing them up and possibly working on an installation and a couple of fun experimental pieces I can’t stop thinking about.

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Katelyn Ledford

Katelyn Ledford is an artist currently living in Providence, Rhode Island and attending the Rhode Island School of Design in the Master of Fine Arts program in Painting. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree focusing in oil painting at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her art has been featured and exhibited along the south and north-east regions in galleries such as the Baton Rouge Gallery, Birmingham Museum of Art, Wiregrass Museum of Art, and Dacia Gallery in New York City. Her work creates a sense of the surreal and bizarre through distortions of the human body and skin. The viewer is left to question their notions of reality and unease in relation to the human form in its bare condition through microscopic, technological, and observable modes of representation.

Lindsay Hall

A West Coast native, Lindsay Hall is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in Arlington, Virginia. She received a master's of fine art in painting from Indiana University in 2016, as well as a bachelor's of art in painting and drawing (2012) and a bachelor's of art in journalism and media studies (2010) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work has been exhibited nationally at venues such as the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the Janet Kurnatowski Gallery (New York), the New Hampshire Institute of Arts, Kent State University (Ohio), Indiana University-Bloomington, and the Target Gallery (Virginia), and is featured in Volume 38 ofStudio Visit magazine. She has co-curated group exhibitions in Indiana and New York. Lindsay received the Ilknur P. Ralston Memorial Award in Visual Arts in 2016. She recently completed the Post-Graduate Resident Program at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Statement

I create colorfully titillating works that engage the notions of pleasure, beauty, and the perverse as they relate to the body, sexuality, and the intimacies and vulnerabilities of human interaction. The resulting pieces and installations fantasize these shared human experiences, often sugarcoating shame and disgust with a provocative playfulness.

The forms are reminiscent of bodily orifices, luscious fleshy lumps, and confections. Superficially, my work serves as eroticized eye candy, furthered by layered innuendos and juicy persuasions. The work is sensuous in nature, often provoking haptic responses. Desire and temptation become valuable components for experience and interpretation.

Ana Vieira de Castro

Ana Vieira de Castro is a portuguese photographer. She was born in May 6th, 1995. She currently lives in Fafe, Portugal. Ana got a college degree in Visual Arts and Photography from Escola Superior Artística do Porto University, class of 2017. During her degree, Ana worked for independente clients, shooting events such as music festivals and she also worked on her personal portfolio, which is still under development. Ana participated in Guimarães Noc Noc in 2016 and 2017, a cultural event that showcases the work of artists in many fields. She also took part in a group exhibition in 2016 called “Cultura d’Imediato”, which took place in Armazém da Alfândega in Porto, as well as “When Deadline Becomes Form” in 2017 on her university. In November 2016, Ana is selected by the editors at Photo Vogue platform, at Vogue Italia, and travels to Milan to have her portfolio reviewed by professionals of the field. In 2017, she is nominated by the local newspaper, Notícias de Fafe, for the Ardina d’Ouro award, that recognizes the achievments of Fafe’s natives in various fields – in her case, the Arts category. Some of her projects have been shared by Organica Magazine, Pawn Magazine, Austere Magazine and Paradise Magazine on Instagram, and the tumblr of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also shared one of her images. She also had some projects published on Stop Magazine and PUMP Magazine where she also got featured on the cover. Ana Vieira de Castro has given some interviews, where she shared her work and professional journey with the audience.

Statement

My images are portraits and self-portraits photographed in natural and humanized places, where I study the behaviour of the human body as an identity in each of these places, where the body has the main focus. Every piece is photographed with a digital camera, and they're always part of a series and not a unique piece. These works have a big surrealist influence because of the body positions and because of the way it relates with what surrounds it. All these images have common characteristics, such as the lightly color desaturation, the use of texture, patterns and a lot of color.

Bernadette Despujols

Bernadette Despujols was born in 1987 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. She studied Architecture at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), where she graduated with honors in 2007. Soon after, she continued her education at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she took classes in architecture, cultural exchange, morphology and anatomy before beginning her endeavors in art making. Despujols taught Architectonic Design at the School of Architecture at the Universidad Central de Venezuela before moving to the US to pursue her MFA in Visual Arts at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) in 2010. Despujols’ artistic practice is highly expansive, as she incorporates a wide range of different media, including painting, sculpture, video, and installation. Her current work revolves and questions historical allusions, myths, and references regarding the perception of women, sex, and contemporary life. She shares her time between her architectonic firm and her art practice. Lives and works in Miami since 2013.

Statement

Despujols works with a diverse variety of materials, scales and strategies, intervening and assembling objects, working in small format paintings or large participatory sculptures, which complete an acute body of work that questions gender, the perception of women by society and themselves. Despujols questions intimacy and the idea that the world in which we live now revolves around sex. Bernadette Despujols examines from a variety of perspectives many deeply ingrained cultural practices associated with attempts to define contemporary womanhood. In this vein, the quest to find the answer to the question of how a woman, by virtue of being a woman, makes others uncomfortable seems to be one of the central tenets explored by her body of work. By drifting from guilt to shame, sex to loneliness, innocence to complicity, Despujols exposes femininity and the concept of the feminine as something to be understood by not just women themselves but by other genders as well. Bernadette Despujols’ work references the body and its place in social and cultural constructs specific to women, and speaks to the opinion of women of themselves, by themselves, in conjunction with that of men’s and the view of society at large... Her work encompasses nuances and subtleties that revolve around the cultural perception of women about themselves: guilt trips, social expectations, sexual desire, as well as intimate bodily connections and thoughts. It also explores the perception that womanhood is somehow always connected with some kind of guilt and draws a fine line between sardonic humor and sheer abjection.
 

Interview: Kit King

Kit King is a Bahamian Canadian contemporary artist who has been the subject of solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums nationally as well as internationally- showing throughout Canada and the US, as well as the UK, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. King has participated in numerous art fairs such as Scope Miami, Texas Contemporary, The Hampton's Art+Design, and her work can be found in permanent collections- both private and public- worldwide. King has won several awards for her hyperrealistic portrait paintings including being a three time people's choice winner of Canada's Portrait competition -The Kingston Prize. 

Often working in large scale, King paints and draws emotional and intimate representationalism works that undress the cultural layers that determine worth and shape identity within the social stratum. With a combination of hyperreal rendering and textural abstraction, the subjects in King's work serve to shift the status quo and challenge norms, while deconstructing the preconceptions of the many roles within cultural levels.

Playgrounds a solo exhibition by Kit King coming to Athen B. Gallery in Oakland California August 12th confronts the void between body and mind, by physically manifesting the mental form, and examining how we see figure through conscious thought. The exhibit offers a realization of a “truer” form that captures both the physiological and psychological aspects of our humanness, in an effort to bridge the gap between the two. 

When did you first start exploring the figure in your work?

I suppose ever since I was a child. Recently my mother brought over a bin of all my old paintings from when I was younger, starting with some of my first works. Amongst the chaos of smears and colours was a reoccurring element I noticed- this sort of pillar with a round ball on top. This pillar and ball started to develop over the years to have hair, arms, feet. Through my teenage years I focused more on portraits, and it wouldn't be until I was in my mid 20's that I would delve further into figurative works. They began as an extension of the portrait, until more recently.  

What would you say the work in the "Playgrounds" exhibition is about and what inspired this series?

For this show, I wanted to break down the human form to create a new (and brutally vulnerable and honest) body of figurative works that examine how we see the naked figure in a more relatable way. Not how we've seen it in centuries worth of artistic depictions or how we see it in advertisements and films, and not 'naked' in the way of 'absent of clothing', rather 'naked' in the raw sense we see and experience our physical forms when we examine it through our own conscious mind. A series of figurative works seen thorough the mental gaze. An examination of the gap between body and mind. I actually started a whole different body of work originally for this solo, and ended up scrapping it entirely when I fell into a major depression, the next day my younger sister was over and watching some Netflix docu about body image. While I was in the back trying to brainstorm a new body of work that resonated with where I was at that moment, the woman from the docu asked "what are the first words that come to mind when you think of your body?" I heard my sisters reply and was so saddened by it. She asked me what words came to my mind, and though her response was about physical appearance, and mine was more an existential disconnect, my response was no less disheartening.  It struck me how disconnected we all are from our physical selves, I wasn't alone in my answer and nor was she. I took to social media and asked people their words... and the response was overwhelming... I knew I had to touch on this. I was inspired by thecuriosity of how large of a role this could be playing in our metal health, and how we see ourselves as people. How much of how we see our bodies affect who we are? Who we become? If our physical self can be held accountable for playing a role in our cognitive self, then why do we continue to separate it from ourselves? Examining our relationship to our bodies to reveal the soul I figure form- What would this look like? 

Who do the bodies you are depicting belong to and what is their story?

The bodies belong to myself and my loved ones. But they aren't meant to be. They are meant to be everyone, as their stories are ones we all share. I took to Instagram and asked everyone what the first words were that came to mind when thinking about 1-their bodies and 2- their minds, so I used models I had available to covey the stories of those who commented on my post. There were literally thousands of responses and I read every one of them, and so I took the stories that overlapped. (For example, "Vessel" was written more than anything else, and so I painted my visual depiction of the figure as an empty vessel. A body we would normally associate with mass, was converted to a hollow shell. Like this skin suit I imagine we could just crawl inside and wear). Within this show there are a series of self portraits that catalogue my struggles with anxiety and depression and that disconnection between my mind and body- especially in those low times, when I was painting for this exhibit. My husband who has struggled with body image issues since I met him- feeling detached from his naked self is amongst the works as well. My sister who in this day is ridiculed for her body, being called "fat" or "manly", when in another life she would be the epitome of beauty. (It just goes to show the ever changing beauty standards). My mother who when I ask her about her body just picks everything apart and separates it into all these pieces she dislikes about herself. All these stories are all the same- how we see our bodies as separate from ourselves instead of us ourselves. They aren't paintings of myself or loved ones- they are paintings of all of us- of anyone out there struggling with this same disconnection. 

Can you speak a little bit about why the figures are rendered without certain parts? 

For starters, I wanted them to remain anonymous, so they could be more relatable, so I knew none of the works would have faces. Also there's something to be said about quite literally separating the mind from the body with none of the works having heads- to me this points out the absurdity in our thinking- how we separate our "self" from our bodies, when they are a vital part of us- not something separate from us. That being said I also wanted to find a way to present figurative art in a new way in order to gain a new perspective on how we examine the human form. If we see the whole, we are less likely to examine it for what it is, since we are so used to seeing it this way. For some of the works I found parts of the body that challenged my perception of reality- how I thought of these shapes vs what they really are- and instead of manipulating the shape to become something else, I simply removed parts to give the illusion of unreality. The effect is not realism, and not surrealism, but more like 'fragmented realism'- just these segments of reality that challenge us to examine what we think we know. 

What do you hope the viewers take away from the show?

I would absolutely love if people took away what I have got from creating them... a sense of clarity. A deeper appreciation for our physical selves. 

We are all fighting this same war, yet feel so alone in it.

There's something that changes your perception about the human form when it's suddenly an art piece... for this body of work all the same elements we hate about ourselves are there... but we view artwork differently than we view ourselves. I didn't paint "perfect bodies" I painted our "flaws" and what I learnt while doing this is how incredibly beautiful they really are. Our bodies really are works of art. 

If people walk out of this show with a new respect for their bodies and the people they interact with, that would make my soul smile.

Share a piece of advice or a favorite quote that helped you in your career as an artist so far. 

"Fuck it". (Can I say that?) Hah this is the thing that resonates in my mind after every bout of self doubt. It's so simple to become overwhelmed with worries and opinions and question if you're doing things "right", if your "good enough" and what's everyone will think. It's a vulnerable place to be- to be an artist and bare your naked soul to the world. And so there will be moments of intimidation and apprehension. Ultimately you just have to say "fuck it", and remember why you started. Say "fuck it if this show tanks". "Fuck it if no one likes it". "Fuck it if I mess up this painting". Why? Not b/c I don't care- this is my whole world after all, I care deeply- but "fuck it" b/c whether this was my job or not, I would still be doing this. And I will still be doing this even if every person disliked my work. "Fuck it" b/c if this show totally flops, I'll still be in the studio painting again the next day.

When you pick up that paintbrush or crayons as a kid, you aren't there wondering if the whole class will like it, or if someone will buy it. You're doing it b/c you love it. So fuck it, be your younger self with that crayon and have fun. Life will be full of hardships no matter what- it's life. Might as well take all the good you can get and not tarnish the joy of art with insecurity.

Fuck it- bare your soul and don't look back. 

Interview: Annique Delphine

Berlin based artist Annique Delphine uses her artwork as a tool to challenge the way society thinks about female identity and sexuality. Working in sculpture, photography, and installations, she creates confrontational and thought-provoking work that is powerfully feminine while embodying the strength in women. The breast can be found in much of her work, reclaiming the woman’s body, reversing its current role as commodity. We spoke to Delphine about her inspiration as an artist, her compelling body of work, and the important message behind each piece. 

What is your artistic background? Tell me about your creative process.

I studied photography at Neue Schule für Fotografie in Berlin and my initial goal was to be a fashion photographer and photojournalist. I worked as a music photographer for many years before realizing that all I really wanted to do was make my own art. For the past 6 years I have been exclusively creating fine art photography, experimental short films, installations, performances, and whatever other medium I can use to express myself. I work intuitively, often trying out new things and new practices without much of a plan. It’s usually try and fail and try and fail until I get it right. I have pictures in my head that I try to visualize. They are always somehow channeling what I’m currently feeling or struggling with. 

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What inspired you to create a body of work focusing on female body politics and sexuality? What is your own experience in dealing with this?

Since everything I create reflects my own experiences and my point of view as a woman, my art has naturally taken on women’s issues.

My art is therapeutic to me. I’m trying to push back on the boundaries I still feel as a female artist. It’s a way to point a mirror to society so we can have a look at our status quo and imagine what the future might look like if we don’t intervene. I try to explore feminist issues in a playful way, but behind the cute little boobs in pastel colors drenched in ice cream, there is the thought of how disgusted I am with the ways in which women’s bodies are regarded as sexual play things/properties, commodities, and I am sometimes disgusted with how I objectify myself even. Internalized misogyny is also a big driving force of my work. 

How did you begin using the breast in your sculptural work?

I started with self-portraits, which were usually nude. The reactions were often polarizing. Some people (including one of my teachers in photography school) said the pictures were vulgar. They were never sexual though. They were just pictures of a woman (myself) without any or very few clothes on. That got me thinking: why is it so accepted for male artists to display the naked female body through painting, sculpture, photography, etc. but when a woman displays herself that way it’s vain, vulgar and unacceptable? 

Men can marvel at a woman’s beauty but women shall never do it themselves. We are held somewhere between “make yourself as attractive as possible” and “don’t ever believe in your own attractiveness.” It’s maddening. That conflict is what got me started as a feminist artists and then a few years ago I came across these breast-shaped stress balls in a novelty store. I bought a couple of boxes and started photographing them, making sculptures out of them, putting them in odd contexts. Then I thought, well what if I take them outside and confront people with them? So I started my project Girl Disruptive where I do guerrilla installations of breasts and flowers in public places. 

Tell me about your installation work. What do you hope will be gained through confronting viewers with an isolated part of the female body, one that is often both censored and exploited through the media?

I like to poke people, make them a bit uncomfortable by warping their reality so they might question some of the norms society has established for us. For instance, it’s completely normal to view breasts as an object. When we see advertising for fashion, beauty products, for beer, cars… whatever, we see a pair of breasts and, of course we know that they are a part of a woman’s body, but we have gotten so used to viewing them as ‘things.’ They are like a stand in symbol for sex. Female sexuality is used to drive capitalism, but it’s a very limited sexuality; one that caters to the straight male gaze. It has become ingrained in us that breasts and therefore female nipples are linked to sex. So a naked woman’s body is always associated with that even when it’s not displayed in a sexual context. 

I try to drive that point further by adding breasts into everyday pictures and expressing the way I experience objectification in a literal sense; breasts as deserts, breasts as alien spaceships, breasts as heads to replace a human mind, a woman’s personality and her agenda. 

A chair made out of breasts (referring to one of my sculptures) is funny and cute, but it also makes viewers uneasy because it questions it’s own purpose. May you sit on a chair made out of female body parts? How does that reflect the way women are treated? What are the different reasons someone might feel uncomfortable siting on a chair like that? What are the different reasons someone might have no hesitation sitting on this chair? 

Your series Objecitfy Me sheds light on important issues regarding women’s body as a commodity. Women are constantly reminded through everyday images that their body is an object; we as women are made to feel that our body doesn’t belong to us. How does this series work to reclaim the female body for women?

My work attempts to explain to people how we constantly feel like our bodies don’t belong to us. That we don’t understand how on one hand our bodies are a commodity and on the other hand it’s forbidden or harshly judged when women take charge of that commodity. Women are always judged for their bodies, for they sexuality and for any attempt at autonomy. By bringing these issues to light and starting dialogue with people—people who are unaware—I hope I can help us reclaim power. I am hoping to heal some of the wounds misogyny has inflicted upon us. 

In your work titled “Alien Nature,” the subject sports a large, single breast in place of her head. Do you feel that women’s bodies are seen as ‘the other’ and are often treated as such through regulation and control?

Yes that is exactly how I feel. It is as if everything to do with womanhood or femininity is alien to people and they feel threatened by it. My works Flying Object (Beverly Hills, CA) and Flying Object (Mohave Desert, CA) reflect this as well. I find it so absurd how a female nipple alone can be such a threatening thing. It goes back to female sexuality being viewed as something shameful, something that should be controlled. 

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Earlier you mentioned your series Girl Disruptive. Can you tell me more about this series and the real life stories behind it?

Girl Disruptive is a photography and installation project where I seek out public places which are either frequented by a lot of people on a daily basis, or they are somehow connected to women’s struggles or a specific woman. I make these impromptu arrangements of flower petals and breasts. I photograph them and then I leave the scene and let people do with it whatever they want. I will post a picture of it to my social media account and then talk about how the installation is connected to gender-based violence or rape culture or misogyny in general. 

For instance, last year in LA I did one at the exact location where Elizabeth Short’s body was found. Elizabeth Short is better know as the “Black Dahlia” and was most likely raped and tortured before she was murdered. Her body was found mutilated and discarded on a road. In the aftermath, many untrue stories about her were spread by the media including accounts on how she used to work as a prostitute. Regardless of if it was true or not, this was linked to her murder as if prostitution somehow justified the attack on her. 

I did one recently in 3 different spots in Berlin that were all historically linked to one woman: Hedwig Porschütz. This was a woman who during World War II risked her own life many times over to save others from deportation by the Nazis. She hid people in her apartment for years, she helped smuggle food into concentration camps and was sent to prison for black market purchases of food. In her later life, she was very poor and applied for government assistance through a silent hero fund. This fund was started specifically for people like her; people who were prosecuted by fascist Germany for helping Jews. She was denied any financial assistance on the grounds of being a former prostitute. Her courage and selflessness were negated by what the 1960s government viewed as a “life of low morality.”  You would think things have changed by now, but it’s 2017 and slut-shaming is still a tool used to dehumanize women and justify violence and hate towards them. I use my installations to raise awareness of these injustices.

Having such an unapologetically strong female voice as an artist, what female artist inspires you the most?

I am hugely inspired by Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin. They made me want to become an artist because they were the first women artists I was exposed to who were questioning gender roles and the way women artists are expected to express themselves.