Shimoyama and Stern depict themselves as the heroes in their own tales; the representations of their bodies serving a function of the poetic, the universal, the symbolic and the otherworldly. Their interpretations function as a conceptual and emotional response to a need for exploration and understanding of the natural and supernatural, their imagery speaking not so much about how we as viewers translate myth, but how myths translate themselves through the body. The opulence in imagery and materials in each artists work invites the viewer to project themselves within the artists’ stories, defining ones own role within the myth and “playing along”.
Devan Shimoyama’s paintings are armed with a dazzle of materials including glitter, rhinestones and impasto paint, with forms emerging and reforming from contour lines and silhouettes. His figures exist as magical and mythical beings that illustrate a story of masculine yearning, self-exploration and sexual desire through his own re-imagined, queer, black, male body.
Rachel Stern’s photographs utilize the symbolic and deceptive functions that beauty plays in an image. Stern exploits the power of beauty in her staged photographs, depicting the artist as mythological goddess or heroine in her own versions of classical mythology. Stern unpacks the power of her own body and experience in scenes of lust, revenge, and tokens of memento mori.