Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fat Hate In the Art World

Warning images may be disturbing:

John Issacs "I can't help the way I feel" 2003

wax, resin, polystyrene, steel

86 1/2 x 59 x 70 inches

220 x 150 x 170 cm

Wellcome Trust Collection , London

Name unknown... {I did search but figured out it was a sculpture in a EU art museum]

I always suspected the worse fat haters saw me as a hunk of meat, and not much more. I believe in our society today, as focus on the body and temporal outdistances focus on the soul, this is part of the increasing evil in the world, but one can see this in the art world too. I refuse to go be a "hunk of meat" for anyone.

One thing, I majored in art education in college, so art was part of my life for a long time and this included a stint as an art teacher and even work in art therapy, in my pre-disability days. I was a good art teacher, one student even won a national award,  and used to make lesson plans up not even needing books, remembering to incorporate the core basics of what I wanted to teach. Good art can teach people many other skills, being able to visualize ideas, creativity and planning. If my health held out, I probably would still be an art teacher today, teaching in some high school. Even my career transitions [paralegal/residential counselor] was more about health needs then anything else and the price of failing medical clearances for the school districts due to my severe breathing issues and asthma by an early age. You can't tell a high school principal there will be no ceramics, because the clay dust makes me wheeze.

However I never was able to enter the art world, very easily though I have privately sold some paintings for hundreds of dollars including at a "do it yourself" art show where I sold 8 pieces. There was time when I tried to enter a painting in my college's art show, that I later sold for a very high amount , where it was rejected. I would go to that show to see what replaced my entry and would find a tall shelf, with different colors of pee [yes urine] in jars where some art school hipster actually had collected it from various people. How do you strike up that conversation? "Hi, I need some of your pee for my exhibit". LOL

This little episode would shock me and tell me what the art world had become. I often later joked, if I had burned up some baby dolls and glued them to a canvas, that I would have done far better in that particular art show. By the way that was not some punk gallery, but my collegiate alma matter having a "graduate" art show.

In the art world, from what I can tell only certain worldviews are espoused. Where does one go, if they find the facetious, ironic, hipster, "shock to make a point" art annoying. What if you crack open a copy of Juxtapoz and simply want to throw up and wonder why everything looks so evil? American Artist is more my speed. The art world is not an "open world" at all, you need connections to get in, and to be welcomed in the door. Upturned noses and wine parties with fancy finger foods, I've seen it all.

Being in a lower socio-economic group, well, the doors often have remained closed. The Art shows want $30-80 dollars a pop which you may as well light a match to once they reject your art work. Part of me thinks they just let their friends work in, and leave it at that. One friend even had international showings but still dealt with the expenses, the art world was NOT a lucrative field. I faced that of course too in the art education world where whenever the school or alternative school gets short on funds, the art teacher is the first out the door.  So years ago I parted ways. Don't get me wrong I love art, and art museum stints, but remained an "outsider".

One thing I have noticed though in the elitist art world, fat people aren't too welcomed. If you debase yourself and they decide to make you their pet, which I refused to do, sometimes some get in. I still remember the woman at one art group, who wore around a size 22 and painted endless paintings of herself being fat and NAKED in front of a mirror. She was middle aged and really not that distinctive, but every painting had every nuance of flesh, every roll, hair, pimple in full view. It seemed like narcissism run amuk. I being young and somewhat foolish about the politics of the art world, asked her, "Why do you only paint yourself and naked over and over?" She went into some diatribe about self acceptance and bodily context, blah blah, but I then said "But you're naked!"

Ever take a look at fat art, and notice how many have to get naked or dress like hookers to get a look-see? Why is everyone naked? Even Spock is out there taking naked pictures of fat women supposedly for art's sake.

Now no one is naked here, but the debasement rule is there.

I felt the same way about the Obeast Project. Fat person debases themselves, while calling it "contextual art" to supposedly prove a point and it gets museum attention. One question I have for the masses, why do fat people always have to shred every ounce of dignity to get any attention out there? Come on people, you are playing into fat hating hands. Even this painting that sold for 33 million seemed to be just about displaying a fat person as naked {I censored it a bit because I want to keep this blog at least PG} and sprawled out on a couch. She is displayed in a rather unseemly fashion. Yeah call me Victorian, repressed but come on, do you think a naked picture of a woman that could be someone's Mom looking like she passed out from a bender or the fat haters would say mountains of Ho-Hos and Doritos,  is great art?

Now back to the two art works at the top of this page, one I cropped because the lady is totally naked and someone else airbrushed the top part, that one definitely focused on the body to the demise of everything else. The art work is basically pornographic, but because it mocks someone who is fat, showing every crevice in exaggerated detail, the art museum denizens run for their checkbooks. Then you have the guy who hates fat people so much even the title, denotes the blame, as he sculpts a fat person as a hunk of flesh that has basically eaten their own head and left thinner legs with bad circulation. There he basically kicks any fat person especially of any supersize in the teeth, and does the typical status quo game blame.

Even when you take a look at the crop art world, I guess a pig on an exercise bike sums it up what is going on there.

I was once told by someone who was well meaning to turn in some art to an art show not in person because I would be discriminated against and they would not want a 500lb person showing up at the artist opening. I really wondered about that, and it made me pause. I know that goes on. But one thing I am really wondering is why is so much fat art if it happens to even be allowed based on open or willing debasement and nudity?

By the way, at the art show, I had where I sold 8 pieces, I sold them at REAL PRICES to REAL PEOPLE. Some made the three figure mark, but I didn't ask for the crazy prices you see at most art museums. There should be an "outsider art" movement aside from the snooty-ville, over-intellectualized nonsense, if I was 20 again, maybe I'd spear something like that. Lets have some art for FAT people, that doesn't insult us or make the price of being naked or degraded to show up to the party!

I think I am too old fashioned for the art world.


  1. I used to pose for art schools when I had starved myself down to 149 pounds and even at that weight and standing nearly 5 foot 7, I was considered "Reubenesque." Granted, I do have a "kangaroo pouch" belly, the result of carrying my son for 8.5 months. Nonetheless, it seemed that I just couldn't "win" no matter how hard I tried--I was always going to be seen as "fat." I doubt these art schools would use me as a model at my current size. I think it's sad because art should represent people of all sizes--and not just in insulting ways for those of a certain size.

  2. Hi Real Cie,

    Yeah I had life drawing and remember the nude models, that is sad they considered you Rubenesque. I do remember getting very thin models in there, and not many people of normal sizes. I would say there is far more fat hatred in elitist spots in society, art schools being one of those places. I agree we should be represented in other places in a normal way, not just to be exploited.