What Does Jesus Think of Lapdancing?

Charmaine_Wheatley_art
Charmaine_Wheatley_art

If you can believe it, she has read the bible a total of six times. Canadian born artist Charmaine Wheatley is as prolific as she exhibits her work, but lately its sex thats been on her mind.  Her new series of erotic illustrations are a testament to her own path of discovery of sex outside the confines of her religious upbringing. Having been living in New York for a little over a decade, Charmaine Wheatley – with ample freedom and wells of creativity – has certainly found her artistic identity, but as for her sexual identity, its exploration is all there on the canvas, per se. Charmaine Wheatley's artwork is extremely multi-dimensional.  Mediums integrate into mediums: from illustration, to performance art, to sculpture and back again.  In her collaboration with DJ and sound artist Taketo Shimada, inspired by her namesake – her name comes from the widely recorded song and 1920s standard "Chaarmaine" – they are trying build and demonstrate the personality of CHARMAINE And if this collaboration is an example, it is proof unto itself how multifaceted and adroit the sum of Charmaine Wheatley's artistic ambitions are. A description of this collaboration then makes total sense: "....a direct reference to fantasy, gift giving, sound art, contemporary feminist dialogue and pop culture while investigating issues of intimacy and sexual tension that dissolve any boundaries between sexual preference, cultural or class backgrounds, age or gender types." Pas Un Autre was lucky enough to ask Charmaine Wheatley a few pertinent questions, after the jump.

Charmaine_Wheatley_abbey_meaker
Charmaine_Wheatley_abbey_meaker

Why did you decide to move to New York City from Canada? When Halifax (Nova Scotia) started to feel too small. There was no where I could go without bumping into someone I knew. I liked the anonymity of NYC. If I want to bump into people I know, I go to Chelsea, the Lower Eastside/ West Village, Williamsburg, Dumbo, etc. If I want to make sure I don’t I just go uptown or the Financial District. Also I was trying to get away I  realize now from an f’d up relationship and social situation. I didn’t feel much loyalty in my circle the way things were up there. Also I was dazzled by the possibilities of NYC. I didn’t want to see anymore rocks, trees, lakes, ocean... Of course the last part has changed. I need nature in my life.

How has living in the city impacted your work/direction?I can get whatever materials I want. I don’t have to just look in books to see an artwork I like. I just go see the piece in the museum or gallery. I’m visually stimulated on a daily basis. No one ever calls what I do, “strange” or “weird”. If I need to dress up like a tooth fairy in the middle of the day and walk down 5th Ave. people barely bat an eyelash. I mean, I haven’t had  the need to explore that particular identity but I am aware of the freedom to if I need to....However walking around naked isn’t tolerated...even the naked cowboy and cowgirl aren’t naked. But that conservatism is something to challenge.

Can you remember the first thing you drew?Hmmm the very first thing? Really I can’t. I’m sure I did all the same kind of little kid drawings....I guess I remember the 1st drawing contest I won 1st prize in. Like in Grade 1 or 2. It was a 2-frame comic, color, on bristol board with crayons and markers. The Royal Bank sponsored the competition. The 1st frame was a boy on the bank of a lake, throwing a rock into the water. The second frame was a close up of the rock hitting the water and ripples emanating. My text was like: ‘Putting your money in the bank is like throwing a rock in the water. Your money gets bigger and bigger’ or something like that...Making reference to savings account and accruing interest on deposits. I don’t even think I was trying to suck up to the bank. I don’t think I understood that the bank chose the winners or whatever. I really honestly thought banks were great. I was a nerdy, earnest kid with a piggy bank and was really into saving money. There was a picture of me in the paper accepting the prize of my first bank account. They put a little money in it and gave me some pen. I was so very honored!

What are your inspirations?Basically I’m inspired by everything and everyone.

Can you tell us a little bit about the erotic series?My keen interest in all things sexual is pretty textbook actually. I’ll now admit I was raised in a strict and cloistered religion. I’ve read the bible 6 times. Premarital sex was a sin. I had to figure out how to sin on my own, without any clues from my parents and I wasn’t allowed to take Health class in school plus I was so busy with studying the bible and such that I had no time for making friends. Besides friends that weren’t part of our religion weren’t really to be trusted... “Bad associations spoil useful habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33). So of course I became acutely curious and wanted to learn first hand all about that which I knew nada. That interest only grows...

What are you working on now?I’ll mention these 3 things:  1. The above drawings are more recent and the propaganda tract is the first of a series I’m working on producing. The next one will be excellent! “What Is The Role Of Women?” I’ll paint a dazzling portrait of Babylon a.k.a. Mother of the Harlots for the front. There is some related performance activity that accompanies the tract.  2. Also I did a collaborative piece with a fellow artist who draws, Joan Linder for the publication “FUKT” that comes out of Berlin. It’ll be available at the upcoming NY Art Book Fair. 3. sex

www.charmainewheatley.com

Text by Abbey Meaker and Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

charmaine_wheatley_jesus_laplancing
charmaine_wheatley_jesus_laplancing