No, this isn’t another clickbait article. This is a real thing and a real experience and, despite what you may think, it’s offering women a chance to not only get creative, but to reconnect with their bodies.
Artist Sarah Macias has been running breast painting workshops to expand her own art practice and make her art accessible and interactive.
This is why I found myself on a Monday night with a group of eight women of varying ages, varying experiences, varying shapes and sizes in Behind Closed Doors. For some it really was a way to reconnect with their bodies, after ill health, after children. For others it was more about cementing the relationship they have with their bodies. Perhaps for others, just a bit of fun.
I not only bared my chest to take part myself, but also chatted to her as we talked about all things art, boobs and body positivity.
Questions floated around the table. Why were we here, what were our relationships with our bodies like already, what did we see femininity as, before we sat still and contemplated our bodies with a period of meditation.
Then the music was ramped up and we danced. No I hadn’t been on the gin. We danced to wake our bodies up, we danced to express ourselves and to perhaps rid ourselves of a little nervous energy. After all, we were strangers about to get our tops off to paint.
“Initially the idea came from my own personal artistic practice,” Sarah told me. “I’m an artist currently studying interactive art – in my case, body art. I do a lot of performances or paintings in which I put paint in or on a part of my body. It can be my hair, it can be my breasts, any part of the body. Then I respond through movement to create art. The art is the illustration of the movement. I love doing it, it’s a connection with the body, and a way of picturing your movement.
“I’ve always had a passion for feminist art. Feminist art is about using the body, and about taking back the body, and sometimes I can worry about what people will think, but it’s been a whole journey, the more confidence I get in my art the more sensual I get.
“At the beginning of this course year I asked what other part of my body I could paint with. I also had the idea of painting with my vagina which I did using a yoni-egg and attaching a brush and I also did some menstrual blood art. But painting with my breasts was one of the first experimentations.
“I thought about doing this as a workshop, because as an artist I don’t just want to do art to entertain, or put it in galleries. I actually want to use my art for social purposes. Because then for me, that was a great experience for me to be painting with my breasts. The first time I did it, it felt quite empowering. It felt as if this area of my body was opening up, and I realised I could create with them, create art with them.
“The idea is to basically fall in love with our breasts – the whole workshop is about falling in love with our bodies, and the breasts have a lot to do with womanhood and community.
“It takes a lot of confidence to run a workshop and when I first thought about running it in December, I was only just a second year art student, and I just didn’t have the confidence to do it. A workshop felt like such a big thing. Somehow by this spring, I really wanted to be able to do some social activism, to have some social interaction with my art. I don’t just want to do paintings, I want to be able to share this.”
But in truth, boobs are just boobs. We stripped to varying degrees of undress, grabbed pots of paint and coloured ourselves in, before lying on a huge sheet of paper to leave our marks. Rainbows, droplets, hands and tummies, paint smeared across noses, feet and arms.
We could also have a separate sheet of paper of our own to create an individual image to take home – which of course everyone did.
Everything about this workshop is an invitation. If you don’t want to answer a question, you don’t have to. Don’t want to meditate, don’t. But I can’t help but feel you’d miss out a little bit on what Sarah’s trying to do.
In a world that whizzes by so fast sometimes you have no time to question how you feel, that has us judging our bodies and comparing them to everyone else when it’s really not a competition, and has us hating all or part of our bodies because we demand so much of them, it’s just one way to take some time and reconnect.
Sarah’s workshops are available via Funzing. Keep and eye out for more of these and her dancing workshops, combining dance with body painting.