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.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="223" gal_title="SATSC Kyle West"]
This photography series was inspired by comparing classic symbolism of unity and strength with consideration to the themes of Sex and the Steel City. Across the world and throughout many diverse culture, the symbol of holding hands can be seen to communicate intimacy or a close relationship.
Taking this symbol and empowering it through strong vertical compositional choices lend the viewer to perceive these couples and their love as prevailing. The stylistic choices are a nod towards the strength and monumentality of the landscape work of Ansel Adams and the influential portraiture of Platon. Ultimately, Come Together is a story of love, unity and partnership and my best ability to document this.
Kyle West is a Hamilton-based photographer. He is in his final year of art history at McMaster University and is currently the Photo Editor for the Silhouette. West has developed a particular interest in portraiture over the years, often times turning to digital and film photography to capture his subjects in a beautiful light. From perfectly timed scenes of bustling city streets on film to carefully composed landscapes and journalistic endeavours, West also utilizes his photography as a means for storytelling.
This digital drawing entitled “Shower Scene” explores ideas and themes of intimacy that are typically uncomfortable for individuals to openly discuss.
Sex and sexuality are often unnecessarily forbidden topics that need to be reimagined as natural and normal.
Through this piece, sexuality is explored and depicted as natural, normal and familiar.
Simple lines and colours along with a minimalistic look are used to enhance the idea of intimacy as a normal and acceptable human experience.
Erin Nantais is a fourth year multimedia student at McMaster University. She typically works with photography and graphic design. Her personal style of work emphasizes strong lines and simple colour schemes to create a distinctive digital feel. Creative portraiture and animal photography are main sources of inspiration for most of Nantais’ work. Nantais has always been interested in art and photography and through her work she’s found a digital style that incorporates elements of both.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="221" gal_title="SATSC Jet"]
Jet’s artistic process relies heavily on research into my chosen focus. It starts with the inquiry: “I want to understand more about…” as they then experiment with different mediums until they find the right material and presentation of their idea. Visualization is the key to their process where they push the boundaries of my idea and test as many possibilities as they can. When the piece is ready for an audience, Jet prefers the audience takes part in the outcome of the work itself.
Jet works mainly with performance, video, sculpture, photography and painting. They try not to ever limit myself to one medium. Jet encounters ideas that seem to float in the air and works with them, listens to them, becomes them and finds the best method to allow the work to exist in harmony with the audience.
Jet’s practice often explores the human body in all of its physical and ethereal elements. Throughout their life they have always made space for themselves to imagine and work out complex issues. This gives them the head space to create and transform what is not yet physical into a tangible piece.
Jet is a multidisciplinary artist who emigrated from Mexico in 2009. They grew up feeling that they didn’t always belong. Social norms, family, friends, peers, the state, and especially an oppressive culture of dominance, sought to limit the creativity of their soul. Now their work reflects a rebirth of expression, and the power of the artist’s will to transform the unseen beauty that surrounds them.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="225" gal_title="SATSC Cait Gautron"]
In her first piece, Eviscerate (3016), in using fruit to mirror anatomy Cait Gautron was seeking to question ideas of ripeness and primacy in media surrounding sex. Shadowing the piece are ideas of destruction and decay. With these characteristics she playfully seeks to evoke viscera while using approximate substitutes to create a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere.
Coercion (2018), oil on canvas. With this work, Gautron seeks to raise issues around social and institutional factors which motivate consent and the fear felt by participants who may unknowingly fall in to the role of perpetrator or victim.
In oil paints Gautron seeks to explore the delicate balance between desire and disgust, growth and decay, inherit in human anatomy. Raised by an artist mother, the majority of her early artistic education came from exploring the galleries and museums of Europe in her early teens. In that time she became enamoured with the lustre of Vermeer’s still lifes and the contortion of Schielle’s portraits. Currently enrolled in her second year of McMaster University’s studio arts program, Gautron has just began to show her work around Hamilton and Ontario.
Kayla Da Silva
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="227" gal_title="SATSC Kaylita"]
or nothing at all.
It’s 11:07 am.
You check your phone.
For a moment
you can’t breathe
and then breathing
happens all at once.
Too fast. Too frequent.
in the depths of your mind
and anxiety holds
you by the throat.
It’s 9:27 pm.
You ask them to choose you,
but they show you
they never will.
Over and over again.
You knew all along
this was going
The red flags
but they were in
your blind spot.
You are accompanied
by your old friend,
You are enveloped
and gently embraced
by the solace of truth.
you have to choose if
you want to pick
or the rose
or nothing at all.
The artwork accompanied by the poetry is meant as a reflection of relationships that are emotionally damaging. More times than never, an individual in the relationship may not be aware of how complicated the situations were until leaving them.
The series is meant to highlight the mental turmoil an individual can experience when the pattern of behaviours from a partner negatively impacts their state of mind. When being in a complicated relationship, it can often lead to an internal conflict when they are in-love with their partner.
The difficult question is; how long can one hold on to what appears to be a rose when the thorns cause trauma? A partner should never put you in a position where you need to routinely put your wellbeing at risk.
Kayla Da Silva, also known as Kaylita, is a creative and a designer. She has found her poetry to be a suitable companion to the visuals she creates. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in multimedia and communications from McMaster University and currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario working full-time as a junior graphic designer.
CW: Disordered eating
For me, sex and food have always had their limbs awkwardly intermingled (in a no eye contact Grindr hookup sort of way). I know what you’re thinking: “how deep, bananas look like dicks and I’m entirely enthused and kind of turned on.” Yet, the story of this photograph is really one of inner turmoil, anguish and ultimately resistance. The food/fuck correlation, as I call it, has lingered like an unwanted houseguest in my head for quite some time now. It goes something like this: the less sex I’m having the less I feel I’m allowed to eat. In times of plentiful or at least grandiose sexual conquest, I can take a breath… or, a bite I guess. The logic is as desperate as it is simple. If I’m not getting laid, I better stop snacking and start looking like a snack. The food/fuck correlation not only problematically frames sex as some prize for me to win, it also leads me through disorderly cycles of eating. It’s all too easy for the things I did or didn’t eat to change my self-perceived body image.
This self portrait is meant to picture the undying torment food puts me through. Putting a voice to this struggle challenges the hegemonic belief that men, those wonderful, tenacious beasts, could never develop eating disorders. The photo challenges the societally constructed ideal of a man who is too tough to feel pain. Inability to conform to this ideal can strip one of his own masculinity. As men the borders of our gendered and sexual identities are constantly under scrutiny by our peers. For most, it’s far easier to conform by reproducing masculinity however they see possible. As a result, men are taught that being normal means never being vulnerable. Expressions of masculine insecurity like my food/fuck anxiety are constantly pushed to the margins of society. I say fuck that. Through this photo I proudly shout: I am a man, I have feelings, sometimes I feel insecure, but here I am. And hey, I bet you’d still fuck me.
Matty Flader is an emerging artist based in Hamilton, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to art projects, with a specialization in portrait photography. Flader’s work concerns a broad range of topics, including gender performance, eating abnormality and responses to current events. He often challenges difficult ideas through a humourous lens in attempt to bring attention to the absurdity of this world.