Holly Stewart, Kansas City Grandmother, Loves Crafting Penises

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Kansas City grandmother Holly Stewart is arousing lots of love and laughs over her current art show at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, featuring intricately crafted penises. Some beaded, some quilted, they range in size and shape, as do those which they are modeled after. Using Kickstarter to fund this show, which is titled “Local Grandmother Quilts Giant Penises,” she has had no trouble drawing in a crowd. Her impetus to create these sorts of pieces came from a past job working in a sex toy factory, where Stewart de-molded dildos. As a painter, she was exploring penis themes when one day she randomly had an impulse to put pins into some foam core in a certain assortment, which her professor told her “looked like a dildo.” And thus craft penis-ing was born.

“Local Grandmother Quilts Giant Penises,” is up now until September 19th at the UMKC Gallery of Art. One reporter spoke very highly of the show, saying:

“Now that the exhibition is up and running, we can officially report that the massive, quilted man parts are more wondrous than we ever imagined. The works are as feminist as they are hilarious, as affirmative as they are transgressive. Sparkly, colorful, big and small, hard and soft, the penises on display truly capture the manifold possibilities of a phallic shape when separated from the shackling confines of human flesh.” (Source)

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“It’s Not Milk” – Ivan Alifan Entices Us With Sexually Charged Portraiture

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Looking at Ivan Alifan‘s sexually charged paintings is like watching a private orgasmic moment that we haven’t asked permission to see. His series “It’s not Milk” is a very intimate look at desire, allure, the gaze, and the underlying sexual subtexts of images. His models are captured in the middle of a blissful state and are all covered in what looks like semen, or some sort of bodily fluid. Alifan deliberately paints his subjects with their eyes closed, lips slightly ajar, heads tilted away from the viewer’s gaze, turning them into a submissive object of desire. Alifan says of his intent:

“To have a painting that can exist as an alluring object and shift into an eroticized figure disarms and naturalizes the modern gaze; decriminalizing sex in art. Whether an individual sexualizes the figure, or becomes embarrassed and nervous by the mere suggestion, this is all a process which occurs independently from the painting.”

He says he is less interested in accurately portraying physical characteristics, but rather creating a certain physiological effect from these visceral paintings. He wishes to capture an ambiguous figure where the focus is on how the viewer reacts to viewing them.

Other than his intimate portrait series, he also dowses full bodies in this goo and places them within a surreal setting. Naked male bodies are carrying out sexually suggestive actions, poised in either a pre, or post-coital state. Surrounded by quite childlike, or non-threatening objects (miniature tress, toy cows and tiny houses) these figures try to entice the viewer into entering their world. Alifan is definitely a master of temptation and seduction, and all we have to decide is how we feel about it.

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Davis Ayer’s Dreamy And Nostalgic Photographs Of Women In Desolate Lands

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Davis Ayer is an LA based photographer who shoots on a Mamiya RZ, has mastered the art of the double exposure, and has an unbending attraction toward what is beautiful. A true nostalgist, Ayer’s work features a dreamy host of colors and moods. His photos have a hauntingly droney saturation about them. His work comes forth through the precision of technicality but ultimately breaks most every rule there is with stunning alacrity. Light leaks, double exposures, solar flare, and other manipulations make the colors in his film bleed so majestically and form the spine of his work. Sometimes I see Mapplethorpe, sometimes I see old film stills, sometimes I see another dimension, sometimes I see Gregory Crewdson. He often photographs women in desolate places and there lingers a level of timelessness that none of the other kids working with distressed film seem to get. The timelessness is essential because it allows the viewer to insert their own subconscious desires into the narrative. The timelessness keeps it relevant. If it’s not dated then it can’t go out of style. He knows the angle to work, and because of that his photographs will always be interesting and beautiful to look at, even after Urban Outfitters stops selling Holga’s and the trend has surpassed. In many ways, that is the mark of a work of art: you can see it hundreds of times and still find something beautiful and new within it each time you look. When I see his work, I hear music, and I see it all play out. Imagine the wind whipping through your hair as My Bloody Valentine blasts through the speakers of the 1969 Chevy Camaro, matte black, that you’re driving like a bat out of hell, and as you meander through the New Mexican landscape, nightfall casts across the desert a meandering series of pinks, purples and blues. This is his world you’ve driven into, come ready to dress in the richness of dreams.

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Going Under The Knife: Beautifully Grotesque Paintings Of Cosmetic Surgery

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Painter Jonathan Yeo captures wonderfully serene moments in the midst of something quite violent. Snapshots of women undergoing cosmetic surgery are painted in a delicate, realistic style, complete with cutting lines. Blurred edges and half-formed torsos suggest bodies that are not yet complete. We see the surgeon’s hands pulling this way and that, like an artist inspecting his canvas. Glimpses of figures are covered in cryptic markings, ready to be cut, snipped, sliced and altered. Yeo’s paintings appear to be something of a modern day Frankenstein.

A self-taught artist, Yeo has been exploring ideas of identity through portraiture, pornographic collages and images of plastic surgery since the early 90s. Having completed high profile portraits of celebrities (Nicole Kidman, Damien Hirst, Malala Yousafzai, Kevin Spacey and Tony Blair) it is fitting for Yeo to move onto another western obsession – vanity. These paintings of the modern day phenomena that is cosmetic surgery are deeply disturbing. We see these women in the midst of transformation, in a state of ease, even bliss, but perhaps this has more to do with the anesthetic. Using a palette of beige, creams and and greys, his works appear sickly but peaceful.

Depicting these subjects as he does, Yeo really is the contemporary Mary Shelley. He shows us people so ready and willing to undergo drastic changes – a vanity and longing for perfection that is in all of us. These paintings maybe act as the mirror we should be looking into; a mirror in which we don’t see what we want to, but rather the stark reality we are faced with: that perhaps Narcissus is not such a far away myth after all.

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The Culture Of Thailand’s Ladyboys

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In Thailand, the term ladyboy is a nickname for transgender women, and they are a population often met with intolerance and prejudice. Their place in society is explored through photographer Soopakorn Srisakul’s series Mistress, in which he captures the daily life of his girlfriend and four other ladyboys. They all work at bars and as call girls in the infamous red-light Nana district in Bangkok.

Srisakul’s images are his journey in understanding his partner and the others experiences. There are few positions that are hiring transgendered women, so this community typically finds work in department stores, makeup counters, and cabaret venues. Those that are bargirls generally make better the better wages, which allows them to save up for gender reassignment surgeries.

Mistress presents us with poignant pictures of both work and home. There are moments of dark clubs, sure, but there are also quiet scenes in bright bedrooms. Srisakul writes:

They go out working, come back to their room, go relaxing outside, occasionally go back to visit family in the countryside, and then go to work. They, like anyone else, just try to get by. They laugh for joy, cry for sorrow, they work to earn a living, and they have an argument with their boyfriend, just like anyone else. In this sense, what makes them so different from us as to warrant a harsh treatment from the moral society, and do they deserve it at all? (Via Feature Shoot)

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Italian Sculptor Bruno Walpoth Turns Wood Into Skin

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Sculptor Bruno Walpoth’s specific technique of wood working is a 400-year-old craft that originates from the Italian valley he grew up in. He has used this method, now removed from the religious context it originated within, for decades, in his creation of wooden sculptures of nondescript people, posed naturally. What has emerged is a body of work that is deceivingly realistic. From the photographs alone it is not always easy to tell that you aren’t seeing a real person; the pieces are teeming with life. He has become so masterful with a chisel and file that he can precisely replicate the curve and texture of human skin. When he is done the wood appears so absolutely smooth and soft, it could be mistaken as a model covered in powder. This is not accomplished easily, Walpoth has confided it often takes him two months to finish a life-sized sculpture. Some remarkable photographs have been taking of the sculptures placed in nature. One in particular, of a boy in shorts standing on a dock, gains such a hauntingly cinematic aspect, given the melancholy poise and demeanor of the sculpture. The common theme amongst the works is their meditative air; the pensive nature with which they stand, almost as if considering in which direction to begin moving once they break free from their eternal stillness.

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Crystal Barbre’s Wonderful Animal-Headed Women Call The Shots

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Crystal Barbre, a Seattle painter, has created an alternate universe where women call the shots, their raw glory shining prominently through the head of an animal. These hungry scenes, at first glance, just look like a skillfully painted playground of lust: voluptuous animal-headed women in the throes of passion, yet there is much more at work here. The mysterious and enigmatic quality of rawness within the animal expression offers more to interpret than just sex. Barbre is giving these animals a power they may not otherwise have; with an animal head the women are operating on an instinctual basis; one not vulnerable to the persuasive effect of emotions.Their strength lies in the fact that they cannot be conned, by themselves or others. They are eternally present, and they engage with their sexuality while remaining a powerful, wild, and even threatening figure. Theriocephaly, or, the condition of having the head of an animal, dates back to Greek mythology and is often used in art and storytelling as a symbolic element. Barbre has used this subject matter to explore dealing with sexual abuse, as a way of allotting power where, for many women, there sometimes isn’t any.

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“One Minute Puberty” Animation Accurately Sums Up The Awkward Process

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Remember that awkward period of your life called puberty? The one that you might like to forget? Well, Berlin-based artist Alexander Gellner reminds us in a short animation that sums it all up in a little over a minute. It’s called One Minute Puberty and it captures the essence of what its like to go through this stage.

We see the main character experience a lot of changes, from pimples, to growth spurts, and discovering their own identity. The video’s energy is non-stop beginning to end thanks to the track and sound design by Niklas A Kröger. It’s reflective about how it feels to grow up and the wish of getting older so you don’t have to deal with puberty anymore.

Gellner tells the site Cartoon Brew that One Minute Puberty was part of his graduation project from HTW Berlin.  The school didn’t have an animation department but they allowed him to make his film anyways. It was completed over the course of seven weeks.

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