Chase Koopersmith experiments with intimacy and vulnerability in her erotica series, 'Arts & Shafts' and 'Cunts & Crafts'.
After years of creating subtly suggestive work, artist and photographer Chase Koopersmith finally mustered up the courage to create what she's always desired to shoot: erotica.
Highly motivated by the use of color, Koopersmith creates portraits of genitalia in a two part series where genitalia becomes more that just a utility for sex and reproduction. The contrasting colors of 'Arts & Shafts' mirrors the more 'extroverted', a.k.a 'the penis' while the monochrome colors of 'Cunts & Crafts' mirror the more 'introverted' design of vaginas.
Take a peek below to see her work and hear what she has to say about it.
Why focus on genitalia?
I feel that making art is a way to highlight a subject. With that in mind, I feel that most people can look at pretty images of other body parts and get some sort of poetic feeling- if nothing else it's easier to suspend disbelief in seeing "the art" in the portrait, or the carefully composed nude, etc. but it's hard to see beyond our training where genitalia is either attached to desire and arousal, or repulsive and/or shameful; it's more challenging to see "the art." Aside from the obvious: creation (reproductive) powers, and pleasure center, both penises and vaginas hold significant symbolic implications. The point is to begin to fill in the gap in the spectrum of anatomical diagrams from sex ed, to the disingenuous pornography that's widespread over the internet. [For the record, I'm not condemning the porn industry or the sex workers in it.] Young people often turn to pornography for sex education, so what if there was an *alternative?
Your male subjects are either erect or holding themselves in an erect position and your female subjects are mostly laying down and seem more carefully composed. Was this intentional? If so, what was the purpose behind this?
I would first like to acknowledge the pronouns you chose for this question. It's important to point out that genitalia doesn't dictate a person's gender identity. I shot both series with my Hasselblad. For those unfamiliar, it's a film camera that takes 120 film-which is limited to 12 frames per role. I only shoot one role per session so every frame has to be intentional. I wanted to keep consistency within each body of work while simultaneously presenting the subjects genitalia in full bloom... or in laymen terms, share views often (simultaneously) reserved for the intimacy of a sexual encounter or the impersonal appraisal of pornography (both amateur and professional alike). It seemed like the most effective way was to ask those in "Arts & Shafts" to be erect, and those in "Cunts & Crafts" to be "spread eagle" like an OBGYN visit.
We're surrounded by so much nudity in the media. Most movies and tv shows can't go without a sex scene and porn has never been easier to find on the internet. So why is sex still considered to be taboo?
I think what's actually taboo is allowing yourself to be vulnerable. In a culture that aches from it's emotional unavailability, connecting with another person intimately (even in just the physical sense) is a temporary antidote.
What are some of the reactions your work has received? What would you say to someone who felt uncomfortable or offended by your work?
About two months ago I released both the "Cunts & Crafts" and the "Arts & Shafts" series at the same time. I got an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on both series. One thing I found peculiar about people's reactions is that so many felt that they needed to vocalize which body of work they thought was superior and why-- it was about a 50/50 split. I think the most staggering reaction I received at all was when a gallery owner told me the work was "sort of boring." In regards to hypothetical viewers with hypothetical reactions to my work: any reaction is better than nothing at all.