Art Practice Makes Art Pervert: Meet the Artist
“Don’t you know a ‘Lady’ when you see one?” a graceful, femme creature demands to know from between her legs. She is upside down, flaunting a bodacious ass and an engorged, impatient vulva. Her purple locks flow right off of the page; seven breasts adorn her chest.
This is a slice of the fantastical “Animal Queendom” conjured by Bay Area-based artist, Dorian Katz in her drawing series, “120 Days of Sodomy.” The series will be on display for a solo exhibition entitled Art Practice Makes Art Pervert, curated by Dorothy R. Santos, at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco from June 2nd through August 15th, 2017. Join her in celebrating the exhibit’s opening on June 2nd, from 6–9 pm, at 1349 Mission St., San Francisco.
Katz, who holds an MFA from Stanford University, is the curator and gallery director at the Center for Sex and Culture. Her art has been shown in venues such as the Museum of Death in Hollywood, SOMArts in San Francisco and Lawton Gallery at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and is printed in publications like Salome in Modernity (University of Michigan), Other magazine, Morbid Curiosity, The Human Pony, Hyena (Reaktion) and Alphabet (Stacked Deck).
Katz’s Animal Queendom is powerfully lined in both deep and diffuse shades of violet, magenta, teal, lime green and aquamarine. Fangs, unicorn horns, mermaid tails, vulvas, breasts, penises and sphincters abound; body fluids are honored. The creatures create art out of one another’s bodies. Rather than alienating viewers, the near-mythical creatures and their out-of-this-world sexcapades appear approachable and loving. The community invites viewers to come play.
Maya: Tell me about your drawing series, “120 Days of Sodomy”! I know that it takes its name from the Marquis de Sade’s book title, 120 Days of Sodom — is there more to the connection?
Dorian: The only connection is that I did something for 120 days and that it’s filthy! The plot of the Marquis de Sade’s book involves a lot of non-consent. I hope that people see the characters I draw as experiencing sex in a very joyful ways, and that consent is visibly tangible. I didn’t look at the plot of the book for inspiration — I just took the title and twisted it.
Maya: Would you describe your work as “Erotic Art”?
Dorian: Yes and No. Some of it is erotic for me while I’m working. And sometimes it’s addressing sexuality and culture and different ideas about sex without being erotic. And it’s up to viewers to figure out for themselves what they experience.
Maya: Tell me more about the place of sexuality and/or eroticism within your art.
Dorian: When I went to art school, I was the only person in my program making art specifically about sexuality. And mine was primarily about queer sexuality, to boot. I noticed that there were going to be less places for my work, because of that difference. It’s less marketable to the “one percent”, and a lot of the art world is about big money. That’s more a consequence of the kind of art I make.
It’s also why I chose to develop a gallery program at the Center for Sex and Culture. I wanted there to be more opportunities for artists who make intelligent, transgressive and never regressive work about sex and gender.
For me, it’s about exploring and freedom of expression. it’s about getting to do things that you can’t in reality because maybe some of the sex is too extreme sports and I’m not an Olympian! Or maybe that sex party looks like fun, but just as a fantasy. But it’s fun to experience through drawing, just like that can be the case reading erotica.
Maya: What was your artistic process for this project?
Dorian: I always start with a pencil sketch and do that first. But I started immediately on the “good paper” and I had all the paper cut to the right size because they’re all the same: eight by nine and a half inches. I worked on top of the pencil with markers, inks and colored pencils.
Because I had to make one drawing a day, it was all about the hustle. Each piece took three to six hours. I made sure there was time every day. I even took it with me places. I worked on the plane to Mexico City. Or I would work on it at restaurants before the food came. Wherever I went, my drawings went; it was small and portable.
Maya: Was there ever a day you didn’t get to it and had to do two the next day?
Dorian: No. I can’t believe it! Laughs.
One of my art teachers told me that if you don’t have a good idea, a bad one will do just as good. And I think that’s true. Laughs. It’s about being disciplined and working. And that’s been one of the best things about this project — my consistency.
Maya: Digitizing all of your work also seemed to be a part of your process. You posted each piece each day. How did that contribute to the project?
Dorian: At first it was scary because my friends would know if I flaked! It kept me more accountable. I posted it on Facebook, Instagram, and two different twitter feeds.
Maya: Poppers the Pony, your alter-ego, who you’ve incorporated into your work many times before, appears semi-regularly in this series as well. Tell us about Poppers!
Dorian: Poppers is how I would like to be in my ideal state. She always looks on the bright side, she’s a sex educator, publisher and a businesswoman. She’s got her own newspaper called Popper’s Shopper: for the Adventurous Animal and Insect. Her goals are to help animals have the kind of sexuality and relationship that they find fulfilling for them from booty calls to mates for life and to educate humans on the diversity of sexual behaviors and gender behaviors in the Animal Queendom.
Maya: Are any other characters recurring?
Dorian: Some are recurring and others are new. Though, Poppers is just a slut — she’s everywhere! The Pony gets around. Laughs.
Maya: What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of doing this series?
Dorian: Most rewarding was the instant positive feedback! And gaining a lot more Instagram followers — they doubled during that time. I also noticed the amount of depression and despair in my Facebook feed starting November 9th, and so this was playful and irreverent and something that would not be supported by the current administration. After the election, a lot of people told me that it was nice to have something to look forward to.
Most challenging was making the drawings every day! Sometimes I’d think, I don’t know what to draw today, or I just don’t feel like it, but I had to, because I made the commitment.
Maya: Which drawings delight you most, looking back?
Dorian: Probably one of the pieces where characters have paintbrushes in their butts or urethras. Or, when Poppers is painting people’s butts.
And one that’s a play on a very famous photograph by Catherine Opie: She had somebody carve into her back two girl figures holding hands with a sun a cloud and a house. She got big in the 90s and was living here and taking photos of the queer kink community, which she was a part of. So I painted that on some character’s butt — or Poppers did.
All are welcome to attend the opening reception of Art Practice Makes Art Pervert! (It’s free!) Please come by 1349 Mission St., San Francisco from 6–9 pm on Friday, June 2nd. We look forward to seeing you there!
Maya Peers Nitzberg is a content writer at O.school and was previously an events coordinator intern at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco.