Art permeates every aspect of my life.
As a Photographic Artist investigating varying perceptions of reality, dreams, and identity, art is all I think about some days. In times of social distancing and global panic, art remains a safe haven to immerse in. Below are my top 5 favorite artists. There are many more artists I look up to (alive and transitioned) but this list is comprised of those artists who have shaped my career in unfathomable ways.
If you know me personally, you know the life and artwork of Frida Kahlo is almost an obsession of mine. Well – not almost – it IS an obsession. I absolutely love Frida’s work and the simultaneous vulnerability and strength she portrayed throughout her portfolio of surrealistic self-portraiture. For me, Frida is the quintessential woman – strong yet soft, dynamically talented, emotive and absolutely beautiful despite flaws (or in Frida’s case – despite her unibrow). Her work has influenced my approach to creation more than any other artist. Guess what? There is a virtual exhibition of Frida’s work on Google Arts and Culture on display right now.
What does Tina Modotti and Frida Kahlo have in common? Well, this list of course. But beyond that, they were actually friends! They were also in a communist party together in Mexico back in the day. Tina Modotti started her career as Edward Weston’s muse and photography assistant. Weston photographed Modotti’s nude body extensively and I believe they were in a relationship at some point (*sips tea*). While she may not be a household name like Weston or Kahlo, Tina Modotti made a significant contribution to the world of photography especially as a woman working during times of social unrest in Latin America. Her audacity and unapologetic approach to art-making continues to inspire many people.
If you’re looking for a dynamic black artist, look no further than Kara Walker. I’m not sure if it’s her intention or just my interpretation of her body of work but Kara will rip your heart out (in the best possible way). From my perspective, her work is about black identity, slavery and the feeling of otherness that lingers in black bodies as a result of oppression. Her work is heavy but digestible and very, visually enticing. She entices other senses too…but I’ll let you explore her breadth of work for yourself! Kara’s work challenges me to dig deeper. Check out her collab with Santigold.
If you’ve ever wondered what or who inspires my photo editing style – it’s Dali. In my opinion, Dali’s body of work is one of the most interesting and important in international art history. I strongly believe the timelessness of his pieces can be credited to their ability to inspire endless wonder. Did you know that Dali and Disney worked on a film together in the 1940s? It’s trippy!! Go watch it. I think Dali’s work will continue to stand the test of time because no one will ever figure out exactly what his pieces mean. I wonder if he even knew…Read the Diary of A Genius.
All hail McQueen! Alexander McQueen’s design propelled fashion into the art realm. I once wrote a 16 page research paper on McQueen’s use of romanticism and wonder in his work. I don’t think I was ever as heartbroken to hear a famous stranger passed away as I was when McQueen transitioned. When he was still with us, McQueen saw beyond the practical use of clothes (to protect the body). He saw the body as a blank canvas and his clothes were art. While his fashion house lives on, it’ll never be the same without his innovative thinking and ability to transform a runway show into a fantasy from another world.
Studio Kelsey Arrington does not claim any rights to the images or artworks depicted in this blog post.