An Art Exhibit That’ll Get Under Your Skin

Last week at the opening of “Borderline: Depictions of Skin,” an exhibition at the Garis & Hahn gallery on the Lower East Side, I was asked to think more deeply about skin and its place in the world.

The exhibit features mixed media work by Gwen Hardie, Cynthia Lin and Diana Schmertz. Each of the three artists presents different perceptions of skin in an attempt to force the viewer to “confront their own relationship between their body and the world,” as the press release puts it. My favorite pieces on display made me feel a little bit uncomfortable–and that’s a good thing.

When I go to an art museum or gallery, the works that make a lasting impression are the ones that stir up some kind of emotion inside of me—heartache, amazement, confusion or disgust. Standing in front of a photograph, installation or what-have-you, if I don’t feel something, I move on. At Garis & Hahn, I lingered on several paintings of interlocked hands by NYC-based artist Diana Schmertz. Her figures made me think of touching, of skin on skin, and I felt sort of squirmy. It was as though I had gotten a peek of something private, something I wasn’t meant to see.

I had the pleasure of meeting Diana at the exhibit and she shared her thought process behind three of her pieces.

1. Something on the Other Side Of It: “With the works that have piles of hands, as opposed to the circular moments of contact, I am conveying ideas about interconnectedness and perception, as well as, ideas of linear versus non-linear time. I believe the idea of interconnectedness is easily assessable. We are social beings and what we do effects other people and the environment we are a part of. The idea that each interaction stays with us and effects the rest of our experiences is also evident in the pile images.”

OnTheOtherSide

2. The Cause of Itself: “It addresses the idea in western philosophy that something cannot come from nothing. Everything is a reaction to an action. Hence, it is believed nothing can be the cause of itself.  This leads to the question ‘What was the first action?’ In this painting, the pile of hands has no beginning or end demonstrating a lack of knowledge or understanding of ‘the cause.’”

thecauseofitself

3. Container of Time and Space: “These works are a mixture of ideas from my gridded works and the piles. I express the idea of interconnectedness by piling the moments of contact together and dissonance in the fact that each moment is mechanically separated into a geometric circle.”

containerofspace

In my daily life as a beauty writer, I tend to think of skin as just an organ that needs moisturizer or a blank canvas for makeup, which is why I really enjoyed the concept of “Borderline: Perceptions of Skin.” The exhibit as a whole is a reminder that skin is so much more.

Photos courtesy of Diana Schmertz
Do You Know Any Women Whose Armpits Look Like THIS?

Jasmine Tookes VS

Whenever a brand or magazine gets carried away with Photoshop, the blogosphere is quick to call them out for screwing up women’s self-esteem with unattainable images of stick-thin legs, miniscule waists and suspiciously swanlike necks. Well, I would like to shed light on another unrealistic beauty standard: perfect armpits.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that in pictures, most models and celebs have poreless, pimple-free skin, but retouchers don’t stop with their faces and limbs. Their pits always look incredibly smooth and even-toned, too. It’s as if no hair has ever grown out of them, ever. They’re like babies’ armpits. Check out these examples:

Karlie Kloss on her Muse Spring 2013 cover.

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Joan Smalls on the cover of the January issue of Vogue Japan.

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This model from the April issue of Elle UK.

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And there’s also Jasmine Tookes, pictured at the top of this post in a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. I’ve never seen a woman over the age of 12 with such pretty pits in real life, which is why they jump out at me when I flip through mags. Watch, I bet you’ll start noticing them more now, too. It’s kind of hard not to. Those pages are filled with flawless underarms! Filled, I tell you! I’ll get over this little fixation eventually, but in the meantime, I felt compelled to drag you down with me. You’re welcome. Oh well, at least Dove might be making some money off of the whole thing. Somebody’s got to. Might as well be Dove, right?

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Sleeping Beauty: The Overnight Skin Treatment I’m Completely Hooked On (Solange Knowles Is A Fan, Too!)

Here’s the awful truth: Most anti-aging skincare products leave me feeling underwhelmed. There are a few exceptions, but usually I find that they’re more like overpriced moisturizers than the skin-transforming, miracle workers that many of them claim to be. So, I’ve been making a slow transition back to the basics. You know, stuff from indie brands that are heavy on natural ingredients and light on hype. Like the new facial oil that made my skin look way, way more radiant after just a few days.

This magical product is MUN No. 1 Aknari Nighttime Dream Youth Serum, ($95), an organic facial oil made with prickly pear seed oil, argan oil and rose oil. It’s meant to be used at night while your skin is naturally rebooting itself, turning over cells and whatnot. I know what you’re thinking: organic oil = greasy and earthy-smelling. But, no, this one actually smells good (the rose helps with that) and it sinks into the skin pretty quickly.

The bottle is tiny, but I stuck with the “one-pump-is-enough” guideline that the makeup artist who created it, Munemi Imai, gave me and she was right—a little bit gets the job done. I swear, in less than a week I saw a difference. And now that I’ve used up every last drop (sometimes I put it on in the morning as well as before bed), I don’t want to try anything else. I’m done. This is it. Mun is all I need. Seriously, my face looks really even, smooth and healthy. Bet it would do the same for yours. Give it a go, if you’re thinking of dabbling in the wonderful world of face oils.

Which overnight beauty products do you use?

Made In My Shade: MAC Matchmaster SPF 15 Foundation

You know how hard it can be to find an amazing pair of jeans that fit perfectly? Well, that agonizing trial and error process is similar to what a lot of brown-skinned women like myself go through when shopping for foundation. That’s why I get excited when I discover a new one that actually matches my skin.

The foundation I’m into right now is called MAC Matchmaster SPF 15. Several of my favorite blushes are by MAC, but I’ve shied away from the brand’s face makeup in the past because most of it gives more coverage than I want, and the colors often wind up looking too red or orange on me. Not Matchmaster! Shade #8 totally disappears into my skin. And the texture is beautiful—very silky and light.

I wish that it wasn’t such a big deal to find a nice foundation in my color, but it is. Earlier this year when I was still on staff at Glamour, I got to rant in the March issue of the magazine about how sad it is that many mainstream cosmetics companies still don’t offer enough foundation and powder shades for deeper skin tones–it’s so frustrating! I’m not going to call out the brands that are lacking—you know who you are. And naming names won’t do anything for those of you readers who have dark skin—you know who they are, too. But I hope it will help if I let you guys know every time I try a foundation that works. So look for more “Made in My Shade” posts in the future. And be sure to share your makeup picks in the comments section below. Together maybe we can save other women from time-consuming, disappointing trips to the makeup counter or drugstore.

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