I recently asked for butts from my networks in social media and did a drawing series from what I received. I then published the finished drawings out through the same social media channels. It got me thinking a lot about censorship, information distribution, nudity, culture, and vulnerability. Below are the posts from that series.
a rainbow of derrières: red
The first instalment of a cheeky little drawing series I put together recently on a whim. I’m so lucky to have such generous, bootyful models who put themselves out there as a response to my inspiration. 🍑
a rainbow of derrières: orange
every once in a while. take off your life. and rest.
a rainbow of derrières: yellow
I recently saw some images from an art history textbook used at Pensacola Christian College, an independent Baptist institution based in Florida. Everything from the genitals of cherubs to the cleavage on the Mona Lisa was covered in black paper or ink. It made me think of Marjane Satrapi’s description of going to art school in 1980’s Iran, where figure drawing consisted of depicting a model who was covered head to toe in cloth (apparently they got really good a drapery!). My first experience drawing the human figure IRL is such a contrast- I was a teenager, and my friend and I just walked into an artist run centre for drop-in life drawing.
I am so thankful for the access I’ve had to the beautiful, amazing, humbling challenge that is depicting the human form. But when distributing my work via social media, censorship is still a consideration I have to keep in mind– especially since IG recently announced it would be demoting content/content creators deemed to be ‘inappropriate’. Is the human body inappropriate? If it is coded as female with nipples, then yes, apparently.
Images from the Pensacola Christian College Art Textbook: https://imgur.com/gallery/TD69n40
From Persepolis: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/4f/7e/6c/4f7e6cd88b75383590aa94a71dff83aa.jpg
a rainbow of derrières: green
Right now in our social media universe there are artists, dancers, sex workers, advocates of body positivity and other folks trying to tell their stories being silenced on the premise of ‘inappropriateness’. Meanwhile, brands objectifying bodies (particularly female-appearing bodies) for advertising purposes are being left untouched. There is a lot of inconsistency.
The difference between objectification and empowerment is nuanced and extraordinarily contextual. Instagram has started to use machine learning to determine whether media is ‘eligible to be recommended for their community’. If this is so difficult for human content moderators I wonder how the algorithm will do. One thing I do know is it won’t be a two-way conversation.
a rainbow of derrières: blue
North American culture has a habit of tying sex and shame to nudity by default. We are born naked. We undress every time we bathe or change our clothes. It is a huge and totally normal part of life. And though sexuality and intimacy do often go hand in hand with our bodies at their most exposed (and that is totally great too!), it’s not the whole story. Some artists explore eroticism and sexuality beautifully with their work. I love me some sexy art not gonna lie.
But I think it’s odd how that seems to always be the knee-jerk association many have with nudity. What about all the neutral and mundane faces of nudity? Like going pee before hopping in the shower, or breastfeeding a baby….
In the book “Get Naked” Steven Seagle talks about the shocking experience of going to a swimming pool in Berlin, where the change rooms were co-ed, and everyone swam naked. People were just there doing their own thing and it was totally fine. He also describes a male swimming instructor in Denmark who demonstrates proper washing before entering the pool, in front of a coed group of young students who do the same. Seagle reflects that in the States the instructor would almost certainly be in prison for lewd behavior with minors right now.
It’s a great book I would totally recommend it. Bodies aren’t weird to me but people, and their attitudes towards them certainly are.
a rainbow of derrières: purple.
I refuse to pick a favourite colour, but also purple is irrefutably the best colour.
a rainbow of derrières: black
When I threw a request into the ether of the social media algorithms for someone (anyone) to send me their butt so I could draw it one slow evening, I had no idea I would amass such a bootiful collection of voluntary images. It was enough for a whole rainbow (and then some). A good handful of butt. Thank you to all who participated!
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