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Interview: Artist Raven Schlossberg on Women’s Bodies, Kicking Ass (NSFW)

Detail from “10 inch (The Sweet Spot)” (All artwork courtesy of the artist)

Raven Schlossberg’s world is a psychedelic, technicolor utopia of sexual symbols — think The Garden of Eden on acid — with woman as subject and object both.  The collage artist, born in Paradise, California in 1973,  has been exhibiting her paintings for over 20 years, with solo exhibitions in New York, Dallas, Berlin, Frankfurt, Bonn, Konstanz, Basel and Paris.

I first saw her work in an exclusive gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, children in tow, and found myself knocked out by their loopy genius. My daughters, as well, were mesmerized.

Raven was kind enough to talk to us about her work: what inspires her, what it means to her, and in keeping with this week’s theme, whether her own work makes her blush.

“Lust Pulls The Trigger”

Your images of naked (or semi-naked) women in your artwork are consistent — what do they represent to you?

First of all, I absolutely love the female form. I love its beauty, mystery and power. In my work, I celebrate the eroticism and dynamism of the female body, often nude or semi-nude as part of a fantasy. Of course, this is my vision, as I am the creator, but I also see my work as fantasies that are projections of society’s all-access, digital, 24/7 hunger for exotic, hedonistic visual pleasure.

How is the female form powerful?

I have long been fascinated by the beauty and complexities of women. From a female perspective, I am interested in the innate power of the female form to tantalize, tease and seduce the viewer. I am fascinated by how throughout history, the naked female body has been both an object of worship and fear, from goddesses to the femme fatale. I am interested in honoring this power, and honestly, I like sexiness. I love seeing women proudly strutting and showing off their hotness.

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“The Getaway”

How do images of women from different eras influence your work today?

Working in collage for over twenty years, I have amassed a collection of images of women that focus mainly on the time period from the turn of the last century until the 1980s. I gravitate towards images of women from the late 60s, 70s and early 80s because it was a sort of feminist renaissance, with strong women appearing in control of their sexual power. There has always been a hidden world of inspiring, “liberated” women. For instance, I just found a cache of
risque magazines from the 1920s, showing the most gorgeous women having a fantastic time.

Does your artwork reflect your own relationship with your gender and your body?

It does in the sense that I am proud of being a woman and that I love my body. In my work, I celebrate all different types of women, every shape, size, ethnicity. All women are beautiful. I loathe “shaming” in all of its forms, and wish that we could appreciate diverse beauty without judging it.

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“The Pink Squirrel”

Do you ever feel that people take your artwork “ the wrong way” ?

If people misconstrue my art as objectifying women, that is the “wrong way”. People’s perception often changes drastically when they realize that this work was made by a female artist.

So then, what is it like to be an artist who is a woman in 2016?

 In many ways it is a great time to be a female artist. There are so many fantastic exhibitions by women all over the world. I do think things are changing for the positive, but maybe not as fast as people might wish. Art and all creative output should be solely judged on its strength, not the creator’s gender, to think otherwise is archaic, ignorant and passé.

raven guitar studio

Artist Raven Schlossberg (Photo courtesy the artist)

Of course. Do you consider your work feminist — or do you feel like your work even needs to represent a particular political or social viewpoint? 

I was raised by a very strong single mother who from my earliest recollection, instilled deep feminist beliefs. I remember reading Erica Jong’s ‘Fear of Flying’ and other “liberated” classics at a very young age, with my mother’s encouragement. This early education, along with being taught that the body is beautiful, set me off on a positive path to being my own strong woman. I do believe that my work can be considered feminist in that it shows powerful women comfortable in their skins, taking charge and kicking ass.

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“The Road South”

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Adrianna Dufay

Adrianna is a studio manager with her husband, artist Mac Premo. She is a founding member of TueNight.com and cofounder of Bucket Board skateboards. She's the mother of two sassy Brooklyn girls and a lifelong feminist. You can find her on Instagram at @nyadrianna.

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