Posts tagged Gender
Qiurui Du

Qiurui Du is an artist from Beijing, China and is currently based in New York City. Having grown up in an artistic family his love of art grew tremendously. Queer identity and life experience give Qiurui a unique point of views and inspirations in art. As an introverted person, he expressed all his emotions and ideas through colors and images, and he believes art is a way to tell stories. In Qiurui’s work, he deconstructs his inner fears, love, and Chinese pop cultures, and the subject matter in Qiurui’s artworks is also inspired by his surroundings as well as daily experiences within the social framework. He creates corny scenarios with bright colors and flat images to bring the viewers into an illusionary dimension, where reality and imagination have been combined. In the Qiurui’s recent solo exhibition “A Bizarre World” (May, 2018), he has explored his childhood memories in his hometown Beijing with the particular attention to the social conflict and pop cultures that were influenced by China’s tremendous development and used acrylic to create a colorful imaginary world with black senses of humor to address the social issues, such as environmental problems, the conflict between poor and rich, and traditional Chinese lifestyle in Modern Chinese society.


The series of paintings "The Adventure Of Dama Wang" is inspired by my childhood memories with my grandmother. My grandmother liked to take a walk with me after dinner every day. It was like an adventure because every day we could see different people and discover exciting events in the city. In the artwork, I have explored my childhood memories with the particular attention to the social conflict. The character - an old lady with a purple cloth and big hair is a representation of a group of middle-aged Chinese women who rushed to purchase gold and stocks as an investment without thinking. They were also profoundly influenced by Chinese tradition, willing to serve in the household and concerned about daily expenses in a developing society. Through the character's eyes, she sees a " Pengci" ( It is a Chinese term referring to the practice of scam such as being hit by a car intentionally for money ), characters from Nothern Chinese Nianhua, and people who enjoy their happy hour. The corny scenarios with bright colors, characters, in which are inspired by people I saw in Chinese memes and pop culture, and flat images bring the audiences into an illusionary dimension, where reality and imagination have been combined. It is a satire and a celebration of modern Chinese society.

Instagram: @qiuruidu

Anne Buckwalter

Anne Buckwalter is an American painter. Her work has been exhibited and collected in the United States, Canada, and Italy, and she has participated in residency programs in the US and Canada. She lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.


Inspired by the historic tradition of allegorical painting, my work explores and challenges the rules of human behavior and interaction. At once quiet and disquieting, my paintings employ uncertainty, tension, and ambiguous representational space to investigate the emptiness of social constructs. Specifically, my work raises questions about how gender-related expectations are defined and disrupted.

Dan Bina

Dan studied painting at the Kansas City Art Institute in 2006. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Katya Mezhibovskaya.

Dan's work addresses themes of identity, media, culture, gender, and commerce. His series of non-sequitur watercolor and ink paintings explore found imagery and text. Objects, plants, and animals are presented with phrases that defy expectations. Dan often uses humor to examine social media avatars, human desire, and the advertising languages we use to market ourselves and products in all corners of the internet from Amazon to OkCupid. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. 

Ron Geibel

Ron Geibel (b.1985) received a BFA from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a MFA from the University of Montana. Geibel has exhibited his work in Canada and throughout the United States, including the New York Ceramics and Glass Fair, NYC; Indianapolis Art Center, Indianapolis; Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston; and Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati. He has been an artist in residence at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY; The Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY; and the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN. Ceramics Monthly Magazine recognized Geibel as an emerging artist in 2015. Currently, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. 


I explore the intersection of the public and private sphere and question our awareness of self and of others. 

My conceptual framework stems from co-opted by artists during the 1980’s AIDS epidemic. Their use of traditional mass marketing tools such as billboards, neon signs, and marquees utilized a familiar format to expose a poignant message. Colorful, candy-coated sweet treats and their irresistible deliciousness toy with the notion that temptation and desire allow us to be drawn to what we don’t even realize is present. 

The use of multiples obscures the sexual references that influence the sculptures I create. I initiate dialogue concerning sexuality, gender, and identity by crafting objects that are drenched in color and laced with playful humor that reference the so-called, private parts of people lives.

Sexuality From a Woman’s Perspective : Interview with Lily Brown

Lily Brown graduated from Tyler School of Art in 2015 with a BFA in Painting. Since graduation, she has continued to live and work in Philadelphia. She works with children by day teaching art, her way of helping to ensure a creative future for the next generation. By night, she returns to her studio. Oil and Gouache are her primary mediums, each used for different outcomes. Oil allows for a more complex range of emotion and technique, offering a more complicated result, while Gouache allows her to render a specific emotion with more precision and clarity. 

Using these mediums and techniques, Brown aims to investigate the gender roles in American society with a focus on the female experience. While painting these images, she is closely examining the moments when these roles are being utilized or abandoned. If the subject is leaning into these influences or fighting against them. Or possibly trying to understand them, trying to figure out where she as a human begins and these overwhelming and sometimes detrimental outside expectations end. Examples of the repercussions of gender roles pop up in all forms of social media, sexuality, anger, motherhood, our education, and every other facet of our being. Lily is questioning the foundation of being a woman and attempting to shift how we treat and view them. This drives her to search for moments and images that portray women who are encountering rules that were written by society, and enforced by our own insecurities.

Thank you so much.JPG

Tell us about your interest in painting the figure. When did you first begin exploring this subject matter and how has it progressed over the course of your art career?

I have drawn and painted the figure since a very young age, people in general just interest me. Before committing to art in college I started my education as a psychology major, this was before realizing I just wanted to paint people, not necessarily try and solve them. I could just stare at them for hours, imagining where they’ve been, who they are, what they're going through. Maybe subconsciously I started painting them since starring is considered rude.

Not much has changed for me in the sense of the subject matter, but I guess I go in and out of different themes. I know that when I graduated from college I became obsessed with painting highly sexualized images. I was completely infatuated with two bodies crashing against each other and I felt too self-conscious to pursue those thoughts in school. Now I have kind of moved out of that phase, although it definitely shows itself at times. I think my work reflects where I am in my life in some way or another and now I'm at a point where I feel more at home in my practice. I no longer question why I want to paint the things I do, I just act and reflect on it later.


Exploring sexuality from the female perspective is important, especially given our current political climate. Talk a little bit about your approach to painting the female nude.

This is a subject that is forever changing for me and so incredibly important. Sexuality from a woman’s perspective it still somewhat of a mystery to American society, I find this deeply upsetting. I remember growing up and ingesting all of this information from movies, magazines and yes porn, which was all mostly given to us from a man's perspective.

When I’m painting a woman, and people in general, I just want to paint them as authentically as possible. I want to catch every unique part of them. I am so sick of seeing women in paintings being depicted as these otherworldly creatures. I'm sick of seeing perfect skin and “perfect female bodies”. That ideal should be crushed, and I'd like to think that every time I paint myself or some other woman the way they truly are, stomachs, uneven boobs and all, I'm helping myself shed these ridiculous insecurities that should have never been there in the first place. And if I’m lucky, I get to help someone else feel a little more at home in her body as well.


Who are the figures you choose to paint? Where do your references and inspiration come from?

I paint my close friends, myself, and draw inspiration from old playgirls and nudist magazines from the 70’s.

How does the art community in Philadelphia impact your studio practice?

If I'm being completely honest, I am a very solitary worker and it is very hard for me to branch out and speak to others about my work on a regular basis. But when I do get out to see the shows and talk with people in collectives they are all nothing but welcoming and inclusive. I'm lucky that when I need a critique I have a couple Philly artists that are always happy to come speak with me about my practice.

Shes Just Like you.JPG

What should artists and creatives be doing to contribute to the change in how we perceive female sexuality as a society?

I think we need to destigmatize the female form, we need to stop viewing it solely a vessel of sexual pleasure, yes it can be that, but it is SO MUCH more. Just as everyone is more than their sexuality. But for the most part, artists who are dealing with this subject matter are already doing the work. Exposure is key, there is no reason female sexuality should stay behind closed doors or be seen as a subcategory of art. It IS art, just like any other subject matter. What I hope is that curators and collectors will stop viewing sexuality as a taboo theme without any real meat or importance. I hope that this type of work will start to be viewed with more consideration instead of being overlooked as crude and two-dimensional. I want to see female sexuality in galleries and shows without the label NSFW.


What's currently happening in your studio and what should we be looking out for this year?

I'm in an in-between area right now. But I have just recently started a painting of two women wrestling that is really exciting me. I plan on starting a new body of work that focuses on physical female aggression. Usually, when people think of women fighting we imagine them saying nasty things behind each other's backs. And I love the idea two women just throwing punches instead. (not that I endorse female rivalry) But that idea is fun and full of juice for me.

Lucas Stiegman

When I first began to wear makeup and gender affirming clothing, I felt beautiful. When my mother and father saw me, they told me I looked disgusting. In much of my work, I have been reflecting on how society often views me versus how I view myself. Many of my photographic tableaus work to ambiguate a subjective perception with a more objective reality. Within the current political climate, sharing experiences through social media highlights the impact that communication has on altering our perspectives of each other. These photographs represent my perception. 

For the images that arise from intuition rather than direct intention, my large collection of props is a source of my inspiration for many of my strongest photographic tableaus. When I become the model for these scenes, I often work with an assistant, allowing me to adopt a directorial process. The grotesque as well as the aesthetics and narratives seen in my photographs have been heavily informed by my childhood experiences. The Scooby-Doo cartoons and innovative Nintendo’s games I enjoyed as a child exposed me to colorful dramas, where a protagonist overcame fear or monsters through humor and objective examination. I am privileged to have the opportunity to be attending Illinois State University (ISU) to study Arts Technology and Photography (BFA). My college experience opportunity to make connections and gain insights on social justice issues through direct involvement. My exposure to these various narratives throughout my life shaped the ethics I hold my work to today. As an adult, sadly, I still see the narrow ideologies that once caused me mental tension pervade through normative society today. 

The colorful aesthetics and subject matter within these sociologically charged tableaus combine to enable a sense of comfort within the discomfort. Expressing my thoughts through the lens of a camera is the language I’ve learned to use when my words fail me. My subversive photographs seek to start a conversation on these uncomfortable issues we are never taught to navigate.

Martin Swift

Martin Swift is a Washington DC based painter and illustrator who focuses on contemporary figurative realism and absurdist narrative. Through oil paintings and detailed pen and ink drawings, he investigates compelling ideas of gender, sexuality, childhood uncertainty, and science fiction. He graduated with a BFA in Painting from Carnegie Mellon in 2012, and has shown internationally in Berlin, London, New York, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh. 


My work explores the nuances of masculinity in America. Due to unhealthy societal pressure to exhibit traditionally masculine traits like aggression, strength, dominance, courage, and honor, males in the United States not only objectify other genders, but themselves as well. This creates something that I refer to as the Paradox of Manliness. 

Objectification is presented in a range of symptoms. From body image issues and eating disorders to unhealthy competition, harassment, and violence. Pressures to adhere to a specific physical and intellectual aesthetic leave men feeling inadequate. The expectation that men confront the world impulsively and aggressively contributes to a cultural rejection of male empathy and compassion. My work depicts a spectrum of masculinity and emotional transparency. The paintings celebrate flesh, body modification, stretchmarks, and scars. 

This work is a direct response to this Paradox, an acknowledgment of what lies beyond manliness.

Zoe Hawk

Zoe Hawk was born in St. Louis, MO, and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the University of Iowa. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, and included in publications such as New American Paintings and JOIA Magazine. She has attended artist residencies in Norway, Belgium, Qatar, and the United States. She currently lives and works in Doha, Qatar.


My work delves into the world of adolescence, depicting girls and young women within carefully constructed scenes: at school, in the home, or out in nature. Themes of gendered socialization, anxiety, group dynamics, and performance are tackled within scenes of girlhood play and interactions, often stylistically referencing children’s storybook illustrations. 

The narratives depicted in the paintings are meant to be sweet and somewhat familiar to the viewer, yet upon closer inspection they take a mysterious or unsettling turn. Sometimes conveying innocence and curiosity, other times confronting violence and fear, my work investigates the complex experience of coming of age. The costumes, colorful dresses, mournful funeral attire, and matching uniforms signify various modes of feminine identity, and set the stage for the girls’ interactions. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood—between fairytales and the dark realities of womanhood—these characters develop an intricate play of yearning, contention, camaraderie, and mischief, as they navigate their social and physical environments. 

Blurring The Lines Between Genders: Synaesthetics Illustration Interview (NSFW)

The power of a tiny change in how we represent men and women through art is fascinating. Something as simple as the placement of large hoop earrings on a masculine lumberjack can seem so out of place. Society places great importance on what is considered inherently male or female; however, life is not so black and white.

Blurring the lines between genders in my artwork allows me to explore and challenge these steadfast notions of male and female. The female figure saturates art and is often used and abused in many art forms. I choose to draw predominately male or androgynous figures, placing them in clothing and situations that society has deemed to be feminine. The female figure seems to be fair game when it comes to art – place a male in the same position and you will get a completely different reaction. I am compelled to draw beautiful images that contrast our ideas of what male/masculinity is with how women are portrayed within art and society as a whole.

Using pencils and musical inspiration, I create concepts that not only encourage people to question their gender beliefs, but entertain them. Erotic and playful, each piece is inspired by the colours and feelings that music can create in us. Certain tones will trigger distinct colours and the general drone of a song will have a weight to it that will either be atmospheric or item/texture specific - high pitched electronic sounds are shiny and sparkly, whereas thumping bass is rubbery and liquid like.

My work is an examination of us as humans, as participants, voyeurs, followers and change-makers.


When did you develop an interest in art? Tell us about your creative journey.

Early – Colouring in books pushed me over the edge. My anal retentive need to colour within the lines coupled with the frustration that the lines never went where I thought they should be or cut through images in sloppy black mess forced my hand (figuratively and literally) to create what I wanted to see and colour on a page. 

Drawing people or humanesque figures was always a favourite thing – I enjoyed the amount of detail and movement I could put in these pictures. They could be anything, relatable and realistic, doing human things or they could be turned into fantastical creatures all butterfly of wing and sea creature of tail.

At about the age of 8 or 9, I distinctly remember my dad taking me to the National Gallery of Victoria and suddenly being struck by the…permission to not have to draw clothing on these humans anymore. I had always considered the idea but somewhere along the line also decided that it would be rude of me, or that people would be embarrassed by me doing so. This now flew in direct contrast to what I was now seeing “real artists” do.

Flash forward to high school, the 14-15 year old me is continuing with this nude is good discovery. However, I can’t say this went down well in a high school setting. Turns out people, particularly teenagers are embarrassed by nudes, even when the possess the same body parts. The teachers weren’t much better – the words “pornographic and disgusting!” were screeched by my art teacher across the staffroom during a drop off of work for a local art competition (which, hilariously – I won). My inability to find the words to defend myself and my work, combined with a school fire that destroyed both my graphic design and art portfolios in my final year of study led me to give up on art.
A 120 Faber-Castell Polychomos pencils set would be my artistic denial undoing. I’d been gifted as a gift for completing high school studies, but I buried them within the depths of a cupboard, and there they lay for 10 years. I was terrified of them. They were a threat to my rationale for not drawing, and a totally unfamiliar medium. When I rediscovered them years later, I couldn’t bring myself to sell them and I couldn’t bring myself to draw so they sat, now within line of sight on a bookshelf for a further 2 years. Daring me to see how atrocious my skills would be after years of neglect. As you can guess, I caved.

In the Tl:dr version of events: I started using coloured pencils for the first time in 2014 and haven’t looked back.


Gender and sexuality is an important subject given today's political climate. What do you hope the viewer takes away from your work?

I would be lying if I said I start each piece with the intent of an emotional reaction of the viewer, however, that frequently happens and I enjoy it – good and (especially) bad. I’m not looking to make political statements, almost the opposite? In doing so, I inherently am making a statement and that statement to be frank, is that I don’t give a fuck. I don’t think a person’s sexuality or gender identity should be a political issue and there is something decidedly broken in society when it finds itself wielding that as threat or something to be feared.

I don’t care what humans choose to clothe themselves in. The fact that I could draw an image of what might be considered a hyper masculine scene, fit for the cover of an action movie, and add a set of giant hoop earrings or batwing eyeliner to the main character and suddenly people are questioning what’s going on just fascinates me. Why so much power in such a tiny object/look? How can something so arbitrary totally change the story of an image, and in the context of the world, the way we would perceive and interact with another human? From that, I suppose it’s about what I want to take away – I want to know why it’s alright to apply certain clothing or poses or settings to one gender but not another. In the case of my androgynous characters, why it’s important to the viewer to know what genitalia they might poses before they decided how they feel about the image. Which to me says more about the viewer that it does about my work.


Tell us about what inspires you. How do you come up with the images and decide what to draw?

The first instigator of imagery within my mind is always music. It gives me the weights, textures and often the colour scheme of the imagery. To that I add one or more of my characters and then play around with different music to alter the mood. I’ll often set myself a technical challenge within each piece to make it difficult, and to keep it interesting while I work on it.

For example, for my last piece, Do You Feel Loved, I picked up on select words of a song “…scent hanging in the air”, ”…nails under your hide”, “…teeth at your back”, “…tongue…”. These words and phrases all stood out to me as quite animalistic in tone, the droning bass of the song added a rubber/latex texture in my mind. To keep with the animal vibe and give myself a challenge I added in the leopard print. Which then lead my brain to images of house cats preening themselves on window ledges (my brain can be oddly specific sometimes).

Applying this flash of imagery to a character, it begins to become something solid that I can then manipulate and add to/remove from. In this case I chose a pose in which the character was preening themselves as a cat might. I also wanted to juxtapose the idea of predator against prey so I gave him antlers which would of course be something you would see on a male deer however. Despite his stereotypical masculine physique, the character would be viewed as having feminine attributes due to the pose and clothing they have been placed in alluding their sexuality when I’ve not actively said anything at all.


How do you feel your work has evolved over the past few years?

Quite a long way considering I’d never use coloured pencils before 2014, and prior to that, not drawn anything for at least 10 years. I still have a considerable way to go in terms of technique as I’d like to add much more visual depth and layer multiple images over each other, in a manner more akin to the way my mind sees images. But at this stage I feel I need a stronger understanding of what I can do with the medium before attempting these pieces. It has certainly been a short sharp ride thus far.

Share a piece of advice with our readers that helped you make bold decisions in your work.
I make a point of not self-censoring – I’m not sure if that can be considered bold? If your artistic thoughts consist of butterflies and bunny rabbits it’s probably not going to cause too much controversy. Ultimately it’s the viewer who decides how a work is received so if you consider bold to be something of controversy, know your audience and give them the opposite of what they expect or want – don’t expect to make friends in the process.


What other artists or creatives inspire you?

My two biggest influences at the moment are Goldfrapp and Nine Inch Nails. They overlap in their electronic elements but contrast each other greatly in tone. It’s fun to take an image in my head that was inspired by one artist and place it within the sounds of another to see what weird twists it puts on the colours or mood of a piece. I also greatly enjoy the works of Hajime Sorayama – it would be great to reach that height of hyper realism in pencil form.


What are you currently working on?

Currently working on a couple of pieces – one being the largest pencil drawing I’ve under taken so far. It has the added texture challenge of both Glomesh fabric and soap bubbles because apparently, I like to torture myself.

I’m also having some fun with glazed doughnuts in another piece, which may encourage a love of doughnuts or put the viewer off them for life depending on how much you like glaze and where...

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.


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.