When I first began this work, in 2011 – I was critiquing beauty industry standards with my own well-lit close-ups of individuals in my community. Images include: a Neanderthal-like hairy hand with a perfect press-on nail manicure, a cool femme-fatale’s rhinestone webbed vajazzle, and 100 Kisses Gradient which involved me kissing a sheet of paper using varied pressures and puckers from one single stick of Marilyn Monroe’s preferred color of red – until my lips were semi-permanent-ly stained with chemicals, throbbing, chapped, and bloated.
As I placed these works in conversation, I realized that it wasn’t so easy to critique beauty power with Punk informed contradiction. Sabotage doesn’t exist without homage. The work has been liked and re-blogged by my audience of over 10,800 people on platforms like TUMBLR. These images exist in the world and are spread as anthems of love and beauty amongst Trans people, friend-to-friend admiration in both sub and pop cultures, and for Maybelline and other beauty directors to sell more makeup. This work responds to beauty ideals in the form of a question (not Q & A, but Q & Q). Its translation is understood more clearly over time by the appreciation and use created by its beholder.
This work will soon exist in the form of a photographic installation and book (Spring of 2018).