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[NSFW] Behold: Boobs of Every Kind in This Breast-Themed Art Show

This San Francisco group show brings boobs to the forefront.

Themed group shows have become a popular way for curators and artists to explore feelings, examine ideas, or pay homage to Bill Murray from a myriad of perspectives. Nearly 200 artists participated in The Breasts Art Show at Public Works in San Francisco, fleshing out concepts surrounding breasts, making what is often a perfunctory visual element the focal point.

The open-call exhibition, organized by husband and wife duo Ezra and Julia Croft, who actually curated an additional Bill Murray art show, kept the theme loose, requesting that artists "create pieces that form an idea about the breast and its place in our lives." 

"It has a lot to do with confronting fears about what people would consider normal and appropriate. In today's charged political climate, it's more relevant now than when I came up with the idea," Ezra Croft tells Creators.

E.T., 2017, Natalie De Ranieri. Image by the author.

The show featured performance art, sculpture, photography, and paintings, mostly from Bay Area artists like Natalie De Ranieri, who used her friends and family as models for her sculptural works. De Ranieri says she named one of them E.T. after her friend whose body she cast the work on said it reminded her of E.T.'s river death scene. 

A series she calls Uovo Fritto was made with the help of her husband. "I was looking at my husband's chest and I was like, 'Can I cast your boobs?' I was like, that would be such a cool installation," De Ranieri tells Creators. "I took one little pull and he started screaming… I had to wax him basically. The hair came out in the silicone and when I saw it I said that's gonna transfer to the plaster and it's gonna look so realistic." The resulting cast is a hairy, and not altogether inedible looking meal, part of a series De Ranieri calls, Uovo Fritto, or Fried Egg

Uovo Fritto from Uovo Fritto Series, 2017, Courtesy Natalie De Ranieri.

De Ranieri's sister, Dina Feliciano, exhibited work as well, collaborating with photographer Andrea Padilla Boudoir on an image inspired by a 2012 Vogue cover based on a Frida Khalo portrait by Nickolas Murray. "I love Frida Kahlo and always have since I studied about her in high school," Feliciano tells Creators. "My interest in birth art evolved after becoming a birth and postpartum doula. I enjoy the bond created during breastfeeding and love that we were able to capture that moment. It is such a special image for me. It encompasses so many things I love! I feel like if Frida was able to have a baby, she would have painted or posed in that way. I called that my celebration of weaning because about a week or two after, she stopped breastfeeding," says Feliciano.

Dando Pecho, 2017, Courtesy of Andrea Padilla Boudoir Photography and Dina Feliciano

Homages to matriarchal relationships were enlivened in sculptural works as well, like crocheted wire breasts sculpted from photos by Ashley Babcock. "I lost my stepmother and my mother in the same year so it was kind of a healing thing for me," Babcock explains. "This connection we have with our mothers through their breasts, through breastfeeding– even as adults there's something nurturing about our own breasts, or if you're a man, someone else's breasts." An installation by thebosomproject.com skewed philanthropic, with all proceeds from their breast-print pillows going to breast cancer research.

Grandma's, 2017, Ashley Babcock. Image by the author.

Install shot of The Bosom Project. Image by the author.

In a sea of bare-breasts, Benjamin Wester's self-censored image of a male chest with nipples barred out, pointedly pokes fun at the realities of female nipple censorship, both IRL and online.

Fiamma Giger's sculpture Bling conjures iconography of empowered female figures like Selena and Madonna who were known for donning bedazzled bustiers.

BAS Series, 2017, Benjamin Wester. Image by the author.

Bling, Fiamma Giger. Image by the author.

Exploring themes of domesticity and sex work, Knock, Knock, by Jeanne La Deaux and Michael Moore is also a play on the aphoristic term "knockers." She says the color red is significant and, depending on the culture, could be interpreted as prosperity or simply that "there's a hooker behind the door. I think it's kind of a viewing and permission to open the door, and there's some significance to the red door," La Deaux says.

Another play on words comes in an homage to everyone's favorite middle school calculator code, 8th Grade Math, by Sam Sheldon and Carolina Gallegos.

Knock, Knock, Jeanne La Deaux and Michael Moore, 2017. Image courtesy the artists.

8th Grade Math, Sam Sheldon and Carolina Gallegos. Image by the author.

Another playful work, Hyper-Inflated Sexuality by A. Owen Layne, works with humor and eros to form a colorful critique on hyper-sexualization. Layne says the photograph came together at the last minute after the scheduled model bailed on the shoot. "I quickly approached a young woman in the lobby, also waiting for someone who didn't show," Layne recalls. "She agreed to be my model, without even seeing the set design first. I feel she handled the expression and my random concept perfectly."

While much of the work in the gigantic group show was photographic, Explorations by Nicolo Serturio stands out with boobs being smashed, pushed, and pulled, beautifully distorting the standard structures associated with breasts.

Hyper-Inflated Sexuality, 2014, A. Owen Layne. Image courtesy the artist.

Explorations, Nicolo Serturio. Image by the author.

Using her body as an instrument, Carly Terreson creates abstractions on muslin in her work Composition, saying the imprints on cloth are the poetic result of cleaning her body of ink. "No brushes touch the surface of the fabric," Terreson tells Creators. "My body is my tool. I paint my body and imprint into the fabric, capturing different movements and creating many compositions and layers."

Composition, 2016, Carly Terreson. Image by the author.

Where Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase is all hyper-masculine, hard-lined futurism, Kira Polyudova's work In Motion offers a softer counterpoint. Not intentionally referencing the famous work, Polyudova says she was working with concepts involved in stop animation.

Allison Bouganim, no stranger to works confronting viewers with problematic ideas surrounding the female body, says her goal with the work 3X is to raise questions about political and social issues. "This piece is meant to dispute the ideals of beauty while also referencing and challenging the porn industry and their depiction of women."

In Motion, Kira Polyudova. Image courtesy the artist.

3X, 2015, Allison Bouganim. Image by the author.

The Crofts plan on doing more breast-themed shows in New York and Los Angeles later this year. 

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