'My Mom Can't Look at It': The Beautifully Crude, NSFW Art of Jodi Clark

"People would wrap their hands around their kids' eyes and run the other way."

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Jan 9 2017, 7:55pm

All illustrations by Jodi Clark

Her name may not garner instant recognition, but that's changing, because Jodi Clark's mixed media work is more than memorable. With Iggy Azalea among her fans, the Sydney-based illustrator plays with the grotesque, the feminine, and perceptions of beauty. The result is a tangle of lewd mythical creatures designed to challenge the expectation of perfection. We caught up with the artist to ask what these scenes mean to her.

My art brings the power back to the subject.

BROADLY: If there's one distilled message you're trying to communicate, what would it be?
Jodi Clark: My art is not so much about sex as it is about sexuality—the societal constructs placed on sexuality, gender and beauty. A lot it is about regaining power for women. It's sort of my way of disrupting what I consider to be antiquated societal constructs. We're supposed to grow up and stay within antiquated rules; I think my art is a way [for me] to break out of those rules.

Do you aim to be provocative?
Yes. My aim is to make the viewer feel a little bit uncomfortable: In doing so, my art brings the power back to the subject. Hopefully it makes the viewers think about why they're feeling uncomfortable.

You have some high-profile fans—Iggy Azeala being one of them. Has your art always received such positive reception?
When I was in art school, everyone was cheering for me, but out in the world it's different. My parents can't look at it, especially my mom. I think a lot of people are offended by it.

I've had people say they couldn't take their kids into the carousel [an art installation] where the hybrids are pole dancing. That was a really large installation you could walk into, but a lot of people would wrap their hands around their kids' eyes and run the other way.

A lot of people look at my work and [don't] understand what they're looking at. I make them look further and closer, so when they realise what they're looking at, they think oh shit. That it's something I aim for—I want them to take another look.

You use charcoal, wood and a range of other mediums for your work. How does creating begin for you?
I generally start from images. I might be upset about something politically, or other times I'll be in a public place and I'll see an advertisement of a naked woman who is ridiculously thin or airbrushed. It'll make me really mad; I want to ask why we're doing this to ourselves, and how is this still okay.

Iggy Azalea poses with a piece she bought last month. Instagram/jcjodiclark

Do the hybrid figures you draw, with women's bodies and animals' heads, represent something for you?
It's funny, I've been drawing hybrids for several years now and I've never really fully known what they mean. But during my honours year I had a really great supervisor who helped me come around to the meaning of it.

Read more: Who's Afraid of Vagina Art?

They're there as actors—as a resistance against generalized standards of beauty: You can't hold them to the traditional standards by which you'd normally compartmentalize people. You can't do that with these [hybrids] because they're not normal. They're not anything you've seen before.

You employ a lot of detail in your drawing. Does this add to those dimensions of vulgarity?
I try to accurately capture all the wrinkles, folds and freckles. Due to the nature of my drawing, things become distorted—they come out looking grotesque. One boob may be normal while the other may be up in the air.

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People looking at that, specially if we're talking about the male gaze, will think that this is completely "wrong"—everything is not perfect here. Even my of drawing is a way to say fuck you, stop trying to make us attain these unachievable goals.