Softcore: Courtney McLeod OCAD University PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Courtney McLeod & Eliza Jade Robin GRADSHOW
 Courtney McLeod & Eliza Jade Robin sitting in Softcore display at OCAD University Open House
Photo by: Kristopher Gaier
My Thesis year

For my Thesis I created  patterns featuring naked women in sexually provocative poses.  The individual images are flipped, skewed and repeated in order to create the pattern pieces.  By repeating these patterned pieces, I have created an intricate pattern of repeated imagery that alludes to the over-abundance of pornographic imagery that is available on the Internet. 
chair kaleidoscopic pattern
 Digital image of kaleidoscopic fabric pattern, Courtney McLeod, 2012
The imagery has been resized in order to minimize the initial impact on a viewer.  This 'hidden' imagery is a nod to the 'hiding' one does in the privacy of home when we consume pornography. I have also attempted to use playful and seemingly innocent shapes and colours in order to instill a sense of calm in the viewer. In other words, the installation's imagery suggests a non-threatening theme, rather one that is embedded in reality.  It is an attempt to take the stigma away from the consumption of this imagery.
pillow fabric wet tshirt girls
Digital image of "Wet T-shirt Contest" shift repeat pattern fabric, Courtney McLeod, 2012

The reupholstering of 1960s-era furniture is, in a sense, a repurposing of the sexual revolution of that time.  By entering this furniture into the contemporary design landscape and covering its cushions with my patterns, I am likening our viewing of pornography on the Internet to a new sexual revolution.

The reupholstering of two chairs, a couch, the creation of pillows and the arrangement of four curtains all adorned with my pornographic patterns is meant to overwhelm the viewer.  Again, I have attempted to break down the binaries between minimal initial impact, as discussed above, and a first impression that can speak volumes. 

digital image of pattern block for curtain, 5x5, Courtney McLeod, 2012
 Digital image of pattern block for curtain, 5x5, Courtney McLeod, 2012
By creating an installation that emulates a living room I have tried to show viewers that this act of consuming pornography has entered a realm where it has entered into our homes.  It is always there, in our computers waiting to be accessed. By taking away the need to interact with another human in order to acquire pornographic material and instead staying in our homes we are essentially adding another element to our private lives.  The private acts of viewing are hidden within the patterning of the furniture.  As the viewer gets closer the images start to come into focus.  Girls, naked and in sexually suggestive positions are suddenly clear.

By covering the furniture in cotton sateen rather than the obvious upholstery fabrics available to me, and utilizing pastels instead of the darker fabrics usually reserved for furniture that sees a lot of use, I am also showing that although our use of this media has expanded to the degree that it has, we are still not comfortable with discussing our consumption.  The viewer is invited by the furniture to sit down but the delicacy of the fabric and colour choices mean that one might feel uncomfortable sitting on this sofa. 

 Softcore display at OCAD University Open House
Photo by: Kristopher Gaier

Now what?

Now that school is finished and the exhibition is over I’ve found myself in a sort of limbo.  As a creative person I feel the need to create but without the access to the digital printer in the fibre studio at OCADU I feel at a loss.  So I’ve been putting it down on paper.  Writing down ideas, drawing inspiration from the things I see on a daily basis.  Logging things for later.  In essence, I’m taking a working vacation.  I feel that after a year of focusing myself so hard on one thing that it is important to take time to reflect and also to switch gears and focus on something new. 

As a multi-media artist I don’t think the feeling of having the carpet pulled out from under me will last long.  I have ideas for painting projects, silk tank tops with floating women and t-shirts with snippets of flesh as pockets.  I’ve been creating things out of the scraps of digitally printed fabric I made during thesis and selling them to those who wish to enquire about my intriguing pornographic bow-ties or my dirty pillows. 

I’m not putting myself out there right now though because I feel really good about this ‘vacation’.  I also wonder what the future has in store.  How does a pornographic textile designer get a job around here anyway? And do I even want to focus on nudity in my practice.  I’m doing a bit of soul searching right now.  I’m trying to get my groove back.  So for now you can find me in the park or at the beach sipping rosé while working on a well-deserved tan after such a long year.
 pillow on chair and uplostered chair seat
 Softcore Pillow on chair and Softcore uplostered chair seat  Photo by Kelsey Stasiak

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