If you think your jackhammer and motorcycle make you look tough, just take a look at Theresa Honeywell’s knit accessories! What says “macho” better than tools and guns made out of knit fabric? This Washington D.C. native takes traditionally masculine objects, and gives them a feminine edge by creating them with knit and embroidery. By using methods that have previously been labeled a “feminine craft,” she sparks a dialogue on the masculine and feminine and what it means to align objects with these social constructs. Studying sculpture at university, she combines her talents in three-dimensional art with her interest in combining art and craft. The dichotomy between feminine and masculinity paired with art and craft challenges our pre-conceived notions of these themes.
It is interesting that knitting and embroidery have traditionally been perceived as feminine, when masculinity is often associated with labor-intensive tasks. These two techniques are in fact incredibly time consuming and require a lot of labor and skill. You can see the astonishing details includes in Honeywell’s work while examining every stitch and bead in her work. The artist even included the brand name of the jackhammer, and the pink and purple motorcycle is actually life size! Her intricate, delicate sculptures really show us the softer side of these “masculine” objects.
Photographer SD Holman uses her talent as a portrait photographer to capture women who fall outside of the traditional gender binary. In her series “BUTCH: Not Like the Other Girls,” masculine women are not oddity or other. These are photos of women who identify as butch captured by a butch woman—they are women defining themselves. In this way, Butch has much in common with the current social campaigns stripping women of makeup, enhancements, and retouching and declaring them more beautiful without the artifice. This is part of Holman’s intent with the show—to use the Butch identity as an example of one of the classifications through which women are objectified. The difference though is the hate and fear that Butch women have faced as transgressors of societal constructs of femininity. Holman says:
“Butches and all gender variant folk walk in a world that is really hostile to them, so we tend to look inward. I was inspired to show their beauty by my wife Catherine, a femme who loved butches, and encouraged me to do this when I started talking about it.”
The rich diversity of butch women is evidenced here. Just as there isn’t one way to be a woman, Butch includes women of all shapes and colors and styles. The fluidity of gender is apparent in each photo.
Holman is an artist. Her portraits are classically beautiful, with their artful lighting and dramatic contrasts. The subjects mostly gaze through the lens to the viewer, unapologetic and authentic. There is no contrivance in these images, no sense of willful provocation nor is there any sense of apology. Author Amy Bloom writes, “Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” These photos are intimate and groundbreaking, brave and matter-of-fact, beautiful and handsome.