Spank me please. That’s the title to Maui artist Sugar Dolands’ shrine–one of the many on display at Café Marc Aurel’s Altars and Shrines exhibit. Like all good art, Dolands’ piece lets me peek not only into its creator’s psyche, but my own as well.
On first glance, it’s pretty simple–a black leather whip dangles from inside a red box with black gauzy drapes. Inside of the box is white and speckled with little mirrors and packets of lube.
My first thought was, “See, BDSM can be pretty.” But every time that I look at “Spank me Please,” it provokes me to introspection. Do I keep aspects of myself hidden behind a curtain? Do I feel that pain or suffering purges me and makes me clean? Do I idolize sex? And most of all, do I want answers to these questions?
I asked a few of the artists on display to explain their work:
“Fish Temple,” acrylic medium transfer on canvas
“Fish Temple” is derived from multiple photographs I took while visiting Thailand. Among the things I admired most were the various temples and shrines–from the bustling streets of Bangkok to the Southern islands of Samui, Phuket and Phi Phi—I became mesmerized by their beauty and grace. The images in this particular piece are from a fish temple that sits on its own little island, surrounded by a giant pond teeming with, you guessed it, fish. Inside the temple is a huge golden Buddha who sits in front of a tree. On every wall, there are paintings depicting stories and parables. I wanted to capture the feeling of this place–the colors, textures, details and love that went into creating it.
“Altered States,” digital animation
I wanted to take an Egyptian theme–most myths came out of Egypt. So I have this female figure that is pieced together of different religions and her reflection is a skeleton, which symbolizes the death of mythology. But in front of her, is this crystal ball. The crystal ball represents the unknown, or hope–hope in the future that mythology will carry us over.
“Anikulapo,” photo collage
I was inspired by my experiences coming of age in the Bay Area in the 80’s. With this piece, I honor and celebrate my heroes, like my friend Thom McGinty and my favorite photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Included in the photo collage are photos taken at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and at a Dia de los Muertos celebration. Fela Kuti (also pictured in the collage) was an amazing musician and political activist. He changed his middle name to “Anikulapo” (meaning “he who carries death in his pouch”). On Aug. 2, 1997, he died of Kaposi’s sarcoma brought on by AIDS.
“The Beatification of St. Gerry,” mixed media
My shrine is triptych. On the left I have Saint Patrick; on the right there is Saint Francis; in the middle is Gerard Butler, riddled with arrows from the final scene of 300. The piece is crawling with serpents (Patrick), animals (Francis) and little plastic ninjas. A hula boy glued to the top has the stigmata. Nails in the frame bleed. Modern icons include a Corona bottle cap, Hello Kitty, condom, day glow Mary and Rosary, dolphin and VW bus with a Maui surfboard. I have no literal translation; the piece is an object of worship. MTW