Blog / 2021 / Always Queer, Always Questioning

April 5, 2021

[video transcript]

I’m still hard at work on the portraiture book I paused my painting practice for at the end of last year. The writing comes in fits and starts, but, since Empathetic Magic is a big part of the book, I’ve been thinking a lot about the paintings from that series, including the double portrait featured in this video. For more about how I met Mistress Clarissa and Thrash, go here or check out pics from the fetish photo shoot I mentioned in the video.

Wonder Woman BDSM, a mistress with her slave artwork by independent artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
NC-17 (Clarissa and Thrash Standing Out)
acrylic on bird’s eye piqué
18 inches in diameter

Until I was thirty-plus years old, I never felt like I fit in anywhere.

In high school, I dressed like a hippy, but I didn’t smoke weed, so many of the hippy types didn’t really trust me. In college, I remember being excited about the idea of being able to fully embrace my nerd-self. My thinking was that it must be cool to love learning when you are in college, but I quickly discovered that my earnest quest for knowledge was as geeky as ever.

Later, when I became a professional artist, I thought: “Yes, finally! these are my people!” But artists are a diverse group, and not all art-types accepted me. Because I was an independent artist or because I did portraits—there were always plenty of reasons for why I didn’t fit in.

When I began questioning copyright loudly on the web, I started to get invited into a new community, the free culture and free software movement. These are creatives in a variety of fields who have reservations about the concept of intellectual property. This time, I was literally being invited into the community. I was being invited to speak at conference after conference.

Usually I was the artistic spice on a schedule jammed with tech types and policy wonks. But at one conference, I wasn’t solo spice. Clarissa, the dominatrix in this painting, was speaking too, about how porn drives creativity, innovation, and freedom on the internet.

I befriended her immediately and, a few months later, I met up with her to photograph and interview her for my Empathetic Magic series. She decided that if I was going to express something of how the fetish world is marginalized, I should come with her to a photo shoot, which is how I met Thrash, who is the sub in this painting.

I spent an afternoon talking with them and watching them play, and I realized that I’d finally found my community. Not that I’m all about BDSM, just that anyone who queers the mainstream makes me happy. My community is made up of anyone who questions traditional ideas or accepted knowledge and tries to see beyond the paradigms they were raised with.

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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