10 Fat Visual Artists You Should Check Out
Representation Matters. One of the first times I ever remember seeing or hearing about a positive representation of fat bodies in art was when Leonard Nimoy released an art book of photos of fat women. As the fat liberation, fat positive movement has grown, one of the best aspects to me has been the proliferation of positive images of fat people on my social media accounts.
One of my favorite things lately is fat artists. There are so many amazingly talented people out there making fabulous art representing fat bodies. In my house, we have some art by the fabulous Kathryn Hack (full disclosure she is a friend). But I keep my eye out for other artists, cause I can always use some more fabulous fat body representation in my house!
I love to make lists. I’m trying to slowly compile a list of as many fat artists as possible, so this is just a start. They do not have to be specifically focused on fat representation, I believe in celebrating and supporting fat artists. Please add a comment if you know of someone I should check out! I’ll do posts on musicians and other types of artists in the future.
In my research, I found a great IG account Artifats. They have not been active in a while, but you should check out their past links. They highlight some amazing artists.
So here is a list of 10 fat artists to check out.
ARTIST'S BIO: Tiana Conyers is a queer, Black illustrator in Omaha Nebraska.
Beginning her professional art career at 16-years-old, Conyers has had a prolific career as a young artist where she’s created work for a number of local organizations and was the Lead Artist of, "We Thrive in Middle Spaces", a billboard illustration series featuring LGBTQIA2S+ Omahans of color.
As a kid, Conyers grew up playing fighting video games, staying up past her bedtime watching cartoons, and copying drawings from her favorite manga, all of which have had a huge influence on her drawing style which often incorporates exaggerated cartoony expressions and bold color palettes.
As an adult, a major theme in Conyers’s work is a focus on depicting fat bodies which in Euro-American societies are often deemed unworthy of respect and rarely make the subject of art. In addition to portraying fat bodies, Conyers’s work often features sex-positive imagery and queer-identified individuals.
ARTIST'S BIO: After working as a Mentor and Pastor for 10 years, Kathryn Hack began focusing on her passion for art as a means of personal and spiritual fulfillment. Diagnosed with lipedema in 2016, Kathryn found that creating art reflecting her body, allowed her to see beauty in her form instead of only pain. For Kathryn, the path forward toward healing her body had to include loving herself fully. She seeks to impart proactive self love to folks dealing with Fat Disorders, as an essential step toward wellness. As well as using art to improve how ALL PEOPLE view themselves.
Kathryn created "Beloved Bodies" in early 2018. She speaks passionately about rejecting body shame and pushing back on aspects of our fat-phobic culture. Her seminar and mixed media art classes are for all levels of artist and all people. Kathryn is fond of saying: "Art is a bridge to freedom; we can get there together!"
Kathryn lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two young children.
ARTIST'S BIO: Artist here to help you kick your self doubt to the curb.
I’m Dina Rodriguez, the artist behind Letter Shoppe. I started this online business in 2013 as a side hustle to be more creative outside of my graphic design job, but over the years it has evolved into a fully loaded art apparel brand with 100+ products and growing.
What began as a freelance career drawing hand-lettered logos, evolved into creating increasingly personal artwork where I word vomit my feelings to thousands of strangers on the internet.
I’ve crashed and burned a few times trying to build up my art career over the last 7 years, but it wasn’t until I started to create work based on my personal experiences that I began to grow a large following. I realized that people care less about my skills as an artist and much more about the messages behind my illustrations.
Through my own self-awareness and artwork, I have finally found a way to embrace myself, love my body, and shed all my fucks on what other people think about me. I think, if you are still reading this right now, you want that too and maybe that’s why you’re here.
ARTIST'S BIO: I am Sanne. You may also know me as Full of Freckles. I live in the countryside where Belgium and the Netherlands meet. I fill my days by being creative in every way. But most of all drawing. My illustrations are colourful and fun and I love to draw small everyday happiness en emotions.
On this webshop you will find Full of Freckles artwork to buy and the books I had the honour to illustrate.
You will see that the webshop is organised into different collections to make it easier for you. So you can shop by theme or product type.
So just have a stroll around and don't hesitate to contact me through your prefered medium if you have a question.
ARTIST'S BIO: My process of making is like hip-hop: I sample my life, family and friends; I remix visual references from history, pop culture, and diasporic cultures; I rap about the different facets of identity and experience. In black vernacular “doing the most” means someone is behaving in a way exceeding what is necessary; as a maker I embody this. By obscuring text, invoking esoteric imagery, and working abstractly, I force the viewer to investigate and question my work, and hopefully their assumptions about identity politics. As such, presentation, representation and performance are critical sites of investigation.
Each material I use acts as a single voice in the choir that is my body of work. Silicone, metal washers, yarn, acrylic paint, glitter, hair, etc. serve as individual singers, adding harmonies, and modulating keys, transcending their singular meaning and adding to the conversation about my intersecting identities. As such, collaging is vital to my process; each layer of material acts to dissect the complexity of issues addressed within my body of work. By balancing frivolity and utility I begin to question what we value. The juxtaposition of material ideas (hard/soft, stiff/flexible, glitter/shiny/matte), allows me to begin talking to the assumed contradictions within my life. By transforming and adapting common materials I’m able to force viewers to think differently about something they see everyday.
The commodification of beauty has led us to question aesthetic pleasure, often assuming beautiful objects lack meaning and gravity. I use that assumption as an entry point, a Trojan horse for complex issues. I contemplate what it means to be beautiful as a black person when “blackness”, as an idea and construct, has been used to dehumanize people, and traits associated with blackness have been deemed undesirable. When we talk about race it is often in relationship to whiteness, in which whiteness is the normalizer. Instead of centering whiteness, I center myself in order to normalize my experience as a black queer person. By exploring my intersecting identities I begin to work through my own perceived contradictions of self.
ARTIST'S BIO: Elisabeth Walden (b. 1987) is an artist, printmaker and ceramicist based in Portland, OR. Her work explores her relationship with her fat, female body, as shaped by contemporary American culture and art history using a variety of painting, printmaking, sculptural and experimental mixed-media techniques. Elisabeth has taught printmaking to artists of all ages at the University of New Haven and the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT, where she was the Education Coordinator. Her work has been exhibited widely in the US and abroad, including a solo shows at Brown University in 2015 and the Multnomah Arts Center in 2019. She received her BA from Yale University in 2009 and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2013.
My art originates in my struggle as a queer fat woman to construct an embodied, loving representation of my body in spite of huge social pressure to hate myself because of it. I know that because my body is fat and female, many people will find me disgusting and think that I am ugly, lazy, unhealthy, and unworthy. My art, therefore, is the result of a sustained engagement with my politicized flesh, as a subject, object and tool to make art. The prints, paintings and ceramics I make exist along a continuum between representation and abstraction, between the frank immediacy of the body print and the language of abstract painting, between my adoration of abundant flesh and the world’s abhorrence for it. As a feminist, I am suspicious of revering beauty as I know too well how oppressive the concept can be, particularly for marginalized people. Yet when I look at the marks and objects my body makes, I feel liberated and powerful because I can see not just their beauty, but the inherent value and humanity in the all the different bodies they resemble.
Though much of my previous practice has focused on representing my own fat, female body in drawing, painting and printmaking, I have recently been focused on hand building figurative ceramic planters and vases depicting fat bodies. This practice has enabled me to expand on the issues of identity, representation and beauty that I have grappled with in my previous work beyond the limitation of my own specific bodily experiences. The diversity of body forms found in these sculptures, though often ambiguous or abstracted in their gender and racial representation, come from specific observation of both my own fat body and those of others. The value these planters have as functional and decorative objects, as well as their tenderness and humor, are in tension with our cultural ideas about fat and otherwise marginalized bodies. I hope this work causes the viewer to reconsider their ideas about beauty, and to build their empathy for fat people, though I am satisfied when the response is simply to stop and smell the plants.
ARTIST'S BIO: b. 1979 Middletown, CT USA Naima Lowe comes from a long line of Black people who make things. She’s got parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents who are musicians, fashion designers, teachers, waitresses, and farm laborers. She’s steeped in a lineage of Black cultural production characterized by alchemic survival strategies known as collaboration and improvisation. Naima has exhibited videos, performances, and installations at Anthology Film Archive, Wing Luke Museum, MiX Experimental Film Festival, Jack Straw Cultural Center, Judson Church, and Seattle Contemporary Arts. Her B.A. is from Brown University, MFA from Temple University and she’s been part of various residencies including the Millay Colony, Vermont Studio Center and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.
Naima is also the creator of independent art and design imprint Trial and Error.
My video, performance, drawing, sculpture and collaborative projects emerge from a critical core belief: Black cultural production/utterance is expansive, inclusive, collaborative and always about teaching, learning and mentorship across generations. This belief is informed and upheld by my commitment to, love for, and never-ending curiosity about Black people and Black culture. Improvisation, as an embodiment of black ingenuity, creativity, generosity and survival, offers me a vast artistic tool kit and shared vocabulary with artists of many disciplines and backgrounds. As an improviser, I embrace the tensions between structure and spontaneity; tradition and innovation; individuality and collectivism. I am comfortable in the discomfort of not knowing all the answers, and put trust in my audiences to do the same. My artistic output aligns with my values and practices as a teacher, activist and community leader. My work comes from my heart and represents the world that I wish to create and inhabit.
ARTIST'S BIO: My name is Wendy. I believe in the beauty of bodies and try to express that in my paintings. I am just a fat queer artist who's just trying to show the beauty in fat bodies.
ARTIST'S BIO: Jillian Marie Browning (she/they) is an interdisciplinary artist pursuing themes of feminism, identity, and the contemporary black experience. Born in Ocala, Florida they received a Bachelor of Science degree in Photography from the University of Central Florida in 2012 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art from Florida State University in 2015. They have had their work shown nationally as well as been included in the permanent collection of the Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Southeast Museum of Photography, and the University of Maryland’s David C. Driskell Center For The Study of Visual Arts and Culture Of African Americans and the African Diaspora. They enjoys puppies, comic books, the color pink, and radical feminism. They currently reside in Gainesville, Florida with their elderly chihuahua and work for The School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida.
ARTIST'S BIO: Jesse Egner is an artist working primarily with photography and video. Often taking the form of playful and absurd portraiture of himself and other individuals, his work explores themes of queerness, disidentification, queer corporeality, and the uncanny. Egner was born in 1993 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. His work has recently been included in exhibitions at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland; Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle, Washington; El Rincón Social and Box 13 ArtSpace in Houston, Texas; Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois; and the Pingyao International Photography Festival in Pingyao, China. He received his BA from Millersville University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and is now an MFA Photography candidate at Parsons School of Design in New York City with an anticipated graduation date of July 2020.
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