Glodeane Brown, Kitchener resident and creator of culturefancier.com, doesn’t have any tattoos. The lack of artists experienced in tattooing black skin has held her back from getting anything permanent. But she does use her skin as a canvas in another form. In the span of five or six hours she transforms into powerful, fantastical beings through only the use of body paint applied by artist Jim McAvoy. These creations are immortalized in photos taken by Jim which capture Glodeane’s expressive use of space. Although the paint is temporary, the photos are forever. And the idea of transforming, becoming something else, but then being able to leave it at that, is actually more appealing to Glodeane that the permanence of tattoos.
Glodeane has an an arts background (she studied Interior Design at school) and she’s always been interested in arts and culture. Launching the website Culture Fancier, which hosts her photos, analysis and interviews on art and artists, was a natural expansion of what she did with her free time anyway–attend museums, galleries and other cultural events–only now she uses it as a tool to educate, entertain and inspire others. It makes sense given Glodeane’s chosen career, which requires her to immerse herself in the creative worlds of others, that she would be willing to participate in such a generous way - she literally offers herself up as a canvas for Jim to create upon.
She credits Jim with showing a deep level of respect for the clients he works with - not only in terms of their bodies but also of their creative ideas. She refers to her sessions with him as creative collaborations in which they worked together to come up with a final product.
Once Glodeane decided to take the plunge, she came with the concept of a comic book character named Vixen. Vixen is one of the first Black female super heroes (also a trained psychiatrist, model, fashion designer and hand to hand combatant) in the Justice League, which Jim rendered faithfully. Later sessions became increasingly abstract, allowing for a more fluid creative process. In all, Glodeane has had five sessions with Jim, ranging from the aforementioned Vixen to a Scorpion/phoenix hybrid, to a Modrian inspired piece, to the one she calls “The Art Deco One”. “The Art Deco One”, pictured above, is a completely abstract work inspired by a gold, black, and white vintage scarf that Glodeane treasures. She describes this session as her favourite work they’ve done together.
Glodeane has a bit of an accessories addiction, so despite her love of this scarf, she can’t remember exactly how it came into her possession. She recalls being in a small town somewhere in Ontario, and being drawn to the colours in it. The shapes in it are geometric and evocative of Art Deco. Glodeane asked Jim to take inspiration from the scarf, and this is what they came up with. Unlike other sessions, Glodeane is representing an idea, an interpretation of a period within art history, rather than a being. Also unlike other photos, she is covered in paint from head to toe, so all you can really see of Glodeane’s appearance are her eyes, as though she is camouflaged as piece of art. Glodeane says this photo was a result of serendipity—the fan caught the scarf at just the right moment. But it is Glodeane's unique ability to take advantage of those moments and express emotion through her poses and expression, that make this photo great.
This photo is my favourite too. It’s not only because I love the colours, shapes and style of it, but also because of what it shows about Glodeane despite not being able to see much of her beneath all that paint. The photo radiates strength, power and freedom, but also a kind of childlike wonder as she gazes toward the scarf. This captures something special about her: the ability to view art through fresh eyes. How incredible and overwhelming and moving it is to marvel over all that human ingenuity can generate, if one allows themselves to see it. That ability to see art comes through both in this photo and in Glodeane’s work at Culture Fancier.
Glodeane is always looking to connect with new people for Culture Fancier, so follow and/or contact her at: culturefancier.com, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Books for Tats
Art Deco, taking its name from the French Arts Décoratifs, was an design, art, and architectural style popular after the turn of the century that oozed modernity and glamour. Learn more in this lavishly illustrated book which brings together nearly 40 essays from leading experts in the field to discuss the phenomenon.