This visual artist combines lust and psychedelia in these colorful images.
The art of merging lust and desire with psychedelic drugs is nothing new. As a matter of fact, experimenting with drugs for sexual purposes is a practice that goes way back. Sure, sometimes, it has led to unwanted results, but being that they have proven to be more fun than hazardous, people have kept opening a world of possibilities in this matter. Describing exactly how this kind of experiences feel like is a very complicated task. There are a lot of elements involved during the trip and so many areas inside us are enhanced at the same time: the psychical state of mind, emotions, sensations, visions, sexual arousal. It’s indeed a particular ride.
Over the years, many artists have attempted to express the way they have experienced their own trip of pleasure and drugs. Their works suggest that everyone experiences this in very different yet fascinating ways. Among the current artists that defy the limits of expressing lust and drugs, one particular woman has portrayed in a very colorful style how these kinds of experiences create a whole new world for our senses. Joanne Leah, a Brooklyn-based sculptor, discovered through photography a way to share her own personal experiences in terms of eroticism and psychedelia that will definitely leave you astonished.
Originally born in Germany, Joanne was adopted at birth and grew up in Southwest Virginia. During her teens, Leah was not the typical girl that went to school and went straight home, even though her foster family was deeply Catholic. At a very young age, Joanne experienced the hazy benefits of LSD at raves and practiced voyeurism from time to time. As if this weren't impressive enough, the really interesting part came the day after partying, when she had to go to church with her family, while still hallucinating.
After some time, Leah felt like she had lived enough of the party life and started focusing on her personal path. After her experimenting phase, Joanne went to college and obtained a degree in Fine Art and Design at VCU School of the Arts in Virginia. Because of this, even though she preferred sculpting, photography was a current throughout her life. As a matter of fact, her first introduction to this discipline was during high school, when her dad lent her an Asahi Pentax 35mm camera.
And that was just the beginning. Because of her career choice, she had to learn how to process black and white film and make darkroom prints. Sure enough, this opened up a world of possibilities for her. Being captivated by this art form, Joanne practiced with classic self-portraits, and when she moved to Brooklyn, she started shooting her friends too. Through photography, Leah found that she could shape her ideas in a different and interesting way.
She could manifest so much of the human condition through real human beings. Driven by this idea, she began to develop her vision of the world through photographs. Over time, using her friends as models didn’t seem enough for her artistic ambitions, so Joanne started to reach out people through Craigslist. With these people, her ideas were ready to be brought to life. Exploring themes that had interested her since she was young (religion, cults, psychology, and sexuality), Joanne felt illuminated by her own personal history, and took her personal experiences to the next level.
This is how her photographic series Acid Mass was born.
Using a variety of materials, like glitter, slime and food colouring, Joanne Leah created a series of erotic pictures that, far from being sober and sedating (as eroticism is often portrayed), are actually whimsical and colorful. In these images, Leah invites us to take a journey inside her mind, through almost tactile experiences full of lust and shine.
These striking creations may cause a clash between the relatable and non- relatable, having the erotic and accessible element of the image on one side, and on the other side, the trippy component that can cause a sense of alienation, as if this were actually out of this world. Nevertheless, all of her images are genius. Without a doubt, her work defies how sexuality should be expressed in the art world, and her message is so authentic, you can actually feel aroused.
Even though her images may not be appreciated by everyone, it’s undeniable that Leah’s work is truly remarkable. Not only because her artistic technique took her to new levels of expression, but because the topic itself was bold and very well addressed. She managed to channel a very unique time of her life through the most exquisite and arousing form of art.
Photo credit: Joanna Leah
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