Photos C/O Lauren Goodman

From side tables to sex toys, Hamilton-based artist Lauren Goodman’s work is all about blending functionality, feel and form.

Formally trained in fine woodworking at Williams & Cleal Furniture School in England, Goodman has a business designing and creating handmade furniture.

She also collaborates with other artists at Hamilton Audio Visual Node (HAVN), a multimedia arts collective. Additionally, she co-founded Sister Moon Collective, which focuses on fostering community and safer spaces through art.

In 2013, she helped create sex-positive submission-based zine Milkweed, where she was introduced to the erotic art scene. However, it was only recently that she began making erotic art of her own. She began creating hand carved wooden sex toys as a way to experiment with erotica.

“A friend of mine and I were talking about how wood is not a medium that people make sex toys out of,” said Goodman. “So just kind of sort of playing around using these offcuts to make different shapes and forms and sort of coming to forms that I like.”

Sex toys are a personal project for Goodman. Whereas her furniture is commission-based, her sex toys are more about personal exploration.

“This is me exploring my sexuality and what I want, and breaking down stigma that I have myself,” she said.

Through her erotic art, Goodman aims to normalize discussions about sexuality. By making beautiful, artistic sexual objects, she hopes to help break down taboos around sexuality and encourage people to explore sex openly.

“The idea is to break down this stigma of sexual objects, that they have to be in a little box under your bed,” Goodman said. “Why can't we put our ‘dirty’ thing on a plinth in our living room, and then when we want to have sex we grab it off the plinth and go have sex?”

Goodman finds that the sex-positive movement is slowly becoming more widely accepted.  In some ways, Instagram is helping to encourage this shift.

Instagram facilitates connections between like-minded artists from around the world, and in doing so builds an online community for an art form such as erotica that may have otherwise been considered niche.

Additionally, sites like Instagram provide opportunities for people to explore sexuality while maintaining some level of anonymity. Goodman notes that people who are reserved about sexuality in real life can find a sense of liberation and openness through social media.

However, the advent of digital media presents a unique set of challenges for Goodman. As a woodworker, the visual element of her work is only one part of the picture. The tactile component of her art is also vital.

“Even with the tables that I make, or lamps, or anything like that — I want you to touch them and feel like it's silky.,” she noted. “I want it to be tactile pleasing as well as aesthetically pleasing, as well as functionally working. And all of these things intersecting to make a beautiful piece of art.”

As online markets replace brick and mortar stores, consumers lose the ability to physically interact with work and provide real time feedback.

Goodman noted that many queer-centric, sex-positive shops are shutting their doors. This means that people lose tactile access to sex objects, as well as the ability to talk to people about sex.

Goodman points to the need for an independent, sex-positive sex shop in Hamilton.

“I would love a Girl On The Wing that just sold sex toys — you know, like the local stuff, really curated with nice colours — that would be amazing, that would be a great store,” she added.

The absence of sex-positive shops in Hamilton speaks to a larger observation about the city’s approach to sexuality.

While Hamilton is known for being an artistic city, it does not have an erotic art scene. She observes a history of sexual repression that pervades into the present day, noting that Hamilton only legalized burlesque last year.

“I think that those deep-seated ‘ickies’ towards sex is really fervent here. And that's maybe why it's a little stifled on the erotic side,” she said.

Goodman also points out that the absence of an erotic arts scene in Hamilton is in part to due with the city’s proximity to Toronto. Hamilton-based artists can take their work to Toronto if they are interested in pursuing erotic art in an already established scene.

Despite the lack of an erotic art scene in Hamilton, Goodman finds that artists often explore themes of sexuality in their work. She finds the artist community in Hamilton to be open, progressive and welcoming.

For Goodman, this openness is key. By exploring sexuality openly and honestly in her work, Goodman hopes to work away at her own internalized shame, and encourage others to do the same.


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Sumeet and Violetta duke it out over issues of galactic importance.

Sumeet Khanna & Violetta Nikolskaya

Mcmaster Debating Society


S: Think what you may of Newt Gingrich, but he sure knows how to be radical. ‘Let’s colonize the Moon!’ Okay. I want to first look at the practical benefits of a purely scientific colony. If we place astronaut-scientists on the Moon, build them a base, and allow them to take observations and operate technology specifically made for the Moon, a host of scientific avenues open up in terms of space discovery. Many point to the ample source of materials available on the Moon that we can use for the construction or fueling of a spacecraft. A Lunar base could more easily launch rockets to Mars due to the Moon’s lower gravity. Sending a human to Mars has been an aspiration for quite some time now; if a Lunar landing marked human progress in the 20th century, a Mars landing could certainly mark it for the 21st century. There are other benefits to be had as well. We could use a Lunar base for an observatory; high frequency telescopes wouldn’t be hindered by diffraction due to the lack of a sizable atmosphere. The list goes on, but I’ll pass it over to Violetta.
V: Of course, Sumeet would present the most captivating argument to open up his case. However it falls short on certain areas. Firstly, the resources that the Earth is truly in need of do not reside on the Moon. Resources like helium, which is used to cool down an MRI machine, are found in space but not in sediment. Secondly, the Mars exploration missions are coming to a close: the ExoMars program, a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency, is near collapse due to the withdrawal of NASA’s support. Lastly, a mission to Mars from the Moon is not a logical step. Descending onto and coming from the Moon would be a poor use of fuel. Currently the world’s finances are not in a position to fund specific space exploration programs that will not conclusively provide us with the resources needed in the immediate future. The resources that the Earth needs are helium and other simple resources that can easily be found not too far into space. The funding that would be pooled into this project will not be transparent, as are few things under NASA’s classified jurisdictions, and will not benefit us at this moment in time.

S: Well, Vio, the moon’s soil is actually rich in helium-3, highly sought on Earth for nuclear fusion. And the moon is vital for us to get to Mars, as many scientists see it as a fuelling station for spacecraft; it may also help to get some data on long-term human health on the Moon before we go to Mars. As for space agencies, I need only point you to Virgin Galactic and the now booming commercial space industry. But I want to extend the reach of this proposal now. I think there’s a case to be made for generally colonizing the Moon. Politicians and scientists alike have a moral imperative to prepare for end-of-Earth scenarios. Asteroids pass-us by all of the time. Earth is over-populating, and resources are dwindling. A lot of countries still have nuclear weapons. Given these variables, a Moon colony would not only allow humankind to hedge against these risks, but would also be a natural step in the evolution of humankind. The preservation of our species, I would argue, is an ultimate good, and every measure possible needs to be taken to ensure our survival.

V: How did we end up in a position where we are conceptualizing ‘end-of-the-world’ scenarios? We ended up in this position on our own accord due to mass consumerism, tactless globalization, a disregard for living within our means and a disrespect of the planetary natural processes. For example, the citizens in the UK throw away around 30 per cent of their groceries due to excess consumerism. Clearly there is an issue with the way that people on Earth understand the resources we have and the amount of waste we produce. We use resources improperly. Until we understand how to conserve energy and resources, we should not be able to branch out and destroy more resourceful areas. That is why we have natural wildlife and rain forest sanctuaries; we are attempting to save what we have left. Furthermore, on a more economist stance, exporting materials to the Earth would be incredibly problematic due to the cost of transportation. Issues like solar wind, fuel and human resources will cause the price of these resources to increase drastically, some estimates say. Before we ask ourselves ‘where can we go for more resources?’, we must answer the question of ‘how can we survive on less?’


S: How can we survive on less? By learning, innovating, moving forward and not sticking ourselves on one planet. Vio’s right to list off our global tendency to waste, but even if we magically reverse our habits and become ultra-sustainable as a population, resources will run out. Further, imagine what we could learn from living on the Moon; imagine what innovation, what energy-saving, what sustainable practices we would learn from this adventure? Space exploration is most certainly our next evolutionary next step. If Vio wants to save the environment, down the road, that may involve moving people and industry to space, which is a reality we have to accept. Finally, though, on a more theoretical note, I think we have a moral imperative to spread the life and beauty of human civilization throughout the universe - a universe that we usually characterize as cold and barren and frightening. So let’s colonize the Moon, and let us prove to ourselves once again that we are capable of taking another giant leap for humankind.

V: Moral imperative? I could understand and engage with your arguments until this point. The human civilization has stripped the very foundation of anything it inhabits. We would not be inhabiting or colonizing the Moon to do anything but, once again, strip it of all of its essential resources and minerals. How is that in any way beautiful or moral? If we run out of resources, it will have been on our own accord and an issue that we must come to terms with and address. Furthermore, we must recycle our resources because we still have retained a large portion of our minerals.Funding a project to gain resources that will inevitably only become accessible to the rich is a true form of supporting a dynasty. Funding a project with money that could be used to build infrastructure and environmentally sustainable projects is a true form of supporting a simplistic and problematic endeavour. How about we try to fix the problems we’ve started before we go on to create bigger problems we have no right to create in the first place?

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