ART: Janett Kabeh’s Solo Exhibition Tells ‘The Story of Aphrodite’
Janett Kabeh in Her Own Words: ‘The Story of Aphrodite’
The Story of Aphrodite exemplifies the meaning of female empowerment through the exploration of female sexuality – women navigating their power and sexuality through nude photographs. Known as a master of seduction, Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and desire, compelling men to acknowledge her beauty and prowess.
In the intimately celebratory moment of taking a nude, a woman photographs her stretch marks, hyper pigmentation, love handles, etc; temporarily blinded to society’s unrealistic beauty standards. The Story of Aphrodite shares this moment with nine body positive women varying in size, seductiveness, and clothing; rewarding their significant other with their pure self.
Bridging the gap between art and fashion, Artist Janett Kabeh explores the concept of pointillism (a painting technique which uses dots and lines to form an image), with denim as her medium. With the color blue being a representation of loyalty, trust, and communication, Janett uses various patterns and colors of denim as a depiction of the natural microscopic patterns that exist within the human flesh.
In her own words, Janett tells us how The Story of Aphrodite came to be.
The vision behind The Story of Aphrodite.
I have a background in fashion design, and when I relocated to LA, I was in the process of establishing my own athleisure brand. Things weren’t going as planned, so I decided to stop fighting and take a break. Although fashion was on hold, I told myself that I could not stop creating. I became fascinated with denim due to its easy manipulation. The first thing I created was a ’12 x ’12 denim tapestry. It was challenging to get this piece into shows due to it’s weight. I knew I had to scale down my work, so I began to do research. I wasn’t inspired by anyone, so I decided to look through an old email of mine that contained old art work, and other miscellaneous things. Fast forwarding, I was still new to my apartment, and came across a small box with old art work. An elephant in pointillism to be exact. I took it out of the box and taped it to my wall. In college, I was required to take a class called Fundamentals of Design which I thought was a complete waste of money, but I actually enjoyed the class a lot. During the quarter, I learned about pointillism and automatically fell in love. For my final, I drew the elephant with marker, creating shading, highlights, and texture. The teacher praised this drawing so much that I told myself I would always keep it no matter what.
I was asked to be in an art show October 2017, and what I had at the moment was acceptable, so I did not plan to do another piece. All of a sudden, the theme of the show was then changed to sex. I wrote down ideas, but nothing was sticking. The idea of drawing silhouettes came to mind, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go with that. In this email I’ve mentioned, was seductive photos of myself that I sent to someone in college. While strategizing, I happened to be standing directly in front of the picture of the elephant. I then had a thought to draw those pictures of myself using pointillism.
Before I got started, I did my research to make sure there wasn’t another Artist doing this exact art form. After researching for hours, it became apparent that I would be the first. Because I’m detail oriented, I wanted to make sure this piece looked exactly like the original. I chose three different shades of denim ranging from a light to dark wash and made a key legend. The first picture took two weeks. At the time, it was just an idea that I didn’t think too much of. However, when I finished, I was amazed and starting on a new piece immediately. Due to good feedbacks I received, I opened the invitation to all females that would like to be a part of the art series I went on to create.
Challenges faced with the project.
A lot of challenges that I faced were things I had made up in my head. There were times I thought my work wasn’t good enough, I didn’t see the purpose of what I was doing, or why I was even doing it, but I kept going. In the beginning of this project, I would send pictures of incomplete pieces to my friends and ask their opinion. All of their answers were the same; “you can’t say you don’t like it when it’s not complete”. That was a very hard task for me to learn; to not have control of what the outcome could be. Over time, I learned to track my progress before and after working on a new piece. It helped me see where I was currently at, and if I needed to make any adjustments.
Persuading consumers to see beyond the female figure was also another challenge for me. As stated, this form of art has never been done before, but since we’ve been so sexualized from an early age, for some, that’s where the conversation stopped. I would get calls and messages asking whom the muse was, am I gay, do I get turned on by the pictures, my work is too outspoken (by a woman), etc. Yes, I did create art for females to be able to express their sexuality, however, the type of annoyance and ignorance I dealt with is a reason most women aren’t comfortable in their skin.
Work/life balance was very difficult as well. I was either working, or doing art. I decided to not give anyone my time, so I didn’t work, or have a social life. I was in a creative trance for eight months. I didn’t have much funds, and lost some friends along the way due to their lack of understanding, but this collection wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t ground myself the way I did. Time plays a very important factor in our lives, and once you can grasp that concept, what truly matters will become clearer.
How the series proliferates the conversation on Women Empowerment.
The Story of Aphrodite fits in perfectly because it’s all about uplifting women, and allowing them to be and express themselves freely. Women are the gateway to life, and the message I want to send with this series is that; it is 100% okay to be comfortable in your skin. You have to learn how to love your body for what you have, and not idolize anyone else but yourself. The reason why I didn’t want to include faces in these pieces is because I wanted the women whom I was drawing to hear what people had to say about them. Sometimes, people are their toughest critic, so when others compliment them, they become more at ease. It’s not that we need validation, but a reminder to give ourselves some slack because we are perfect the way we are.
I am honestly still amazed at what I’ve created. I didn’t know that I could create on this level, but I gave it a chance. Sometimes we want to force things to happen that are not in our destiny. If everything didn’t happen the exact way I explained it, I would not have created this art. I have since realized that everything is perfectly aligned in our lives, and we are all exactly where we are supposed to be.
Visit janettkabeh.com to view the other pieces from the series.