Prowling the cinematic cells of film noir, the femme fatale achieved equality to (and even dominance over) her male counterparts through the use of sexuality. Almost a strange precursor to third-wave feminism, these “dangerous woman” archetypes celebrated their femininity and sexuality as a means of female empowerment. And this core concept resonates throughout AFA Gallery‘s Pop Tarts exhibition, the art pieces evoking how strong women can oppose oppression without sacrificing their sensuality. Comprised of works by Colin Christian, Sas Christian, and Vlada Haggerty, for this showcase the gallery space partnered with Smashbox, a creator of those alluring pieces of feminine armament and weaponry, cosmetics.

An Overview of the Pop Tarts Exhibition

The sneering forms of Colin Christian’s Lipsex sculptures exude beauty through their colorful coatings but pronounce defiance with their shapes. This trio arches around the artist’s Batgirl piece, the statue’s mouth perfectly mirroring those works surrounding it. Most likely modeled after Yvonne Craig‘s Batgirl from the 1960’s Batman television series, this seems apt as not only was Craig’s rendition a sex symbol at the time but, as Peter Sanderson notes, she became “a symbol of the emerging female empowerment movement”.
Imbued with a liquid-like finish through their high gloss coating, Sas Christian’s four paintings become reflective surfaces both literally and metaphorically. Especially potent are her All Seeing pieces, the vulnerability of their subjects granted power through their triangular canvas shapes, creating an immediate association to the Eye of Providence. And the softness of her paintings contrasts perfectly against diamond encrusted teeth aspect of her husband’s rainbow hued Lipsex Finale.
Featuring hyper tribal styling that would’ve felt at home in the post-apocalyptic realm of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the Ascent sculpture is adorned with holographic flakes on its lips that pop off the form’s milk chocolate skin tone. And the warrior woman depicted in Deep Rising, with her mermaid-like scales finishing her form, gazes stoicly forward through her otherworldly, gem-like eyes. But it is with these futuristic and fantastical interpretations that Colin Christian accentuates how the concept of strong women isn’t limited to any one time or place, how they are universal truths that always have been and will be.
Inspired by the elaborate lip art created by Vlada Haggerty, there is a subtle and sensual form to Colin Christian’s Lip Series Collaboration pieces. Each decorated in their own unique way, these works run the range from feeling battle ready with their thick armor or sharp weaponry to being seductively disarming with their playfulness and colorful adornments.
Attired in bunny masks, perhaps referencing the iconic Playboy logo, Colin Christian’s This Bunny Bites Back works twist the potentially cute, sexy aesthetic into one laced with danger. While their facial expressions impart a sense of wildness, it is their slightly parted lips that reveal the true terror, sharped incisors ready to gnash and gnaw. And built from a similarly formed face is Tooled Up, her beautified features encased under a studded metal fixture, her overall look being that of a crazed warrior queen fashionista.
Playing on the inherent sensuality of a woman pursing something between her lips as well as ‘cherry‘ being a slang term for one’s virginity, Colin Christian’s Cherry Poppers series contributions ooze sexuality. All decorated with a glittery finish, there’s something about the sparkling aspect that is reminiscent of armor, granting a sense of strength to these potentially vulnerable forms.
Continuing the lip-theme dominant throughout Pop Tarts, Los Angeles-based makeup artist and photographer Vlada Haggerty displaying a dozen photo prints of lips she’s adorned with Smashbox Cosmetics. Creating a wonderful interplay between Colin Christian’s works with the styling and positioning of her subjects, Haggerty’s contributions perfectly capture moments of strength and sensuality.

The Charity Auction at the Pop Tarts Exhibition

The Pop Tart exhibition’s opening night doubled as a benefit for Broadway Cares, one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. In addition to makeup from Smashbox Cosmetics and tickets to Kinky Boots on Broadway, Haggerty and Colin Christian donated art pieces for auction, the Rose Gold photo print and Moonglow sculpture respectively.
The Pop Tarts three-person exhibition at AFA Gallery had its opening reception on Saturday, November 4th from 6-8pm. All works in this exhibition will remain on display until December 1st, 2017 at the gallery’s physical location (54 Greene St, New York, NY 10012).

View the gallery’s dedicated page for the exhibition

For more information on Colin Christian:
website | shop | twitter | facebook | instagram

For more information on Sas Christian:
website | shop | instagram | twitter

For more information on Vlada Haggerty:
website | instagram | facebook

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