Decoding Masculinity: How do you define Masculinity? Part 3

In the run up to the Decoding Masculinity: A conversation on Race Religion & Masculinity event.

Shades of Noir asked students from UAL-wide their opinions on Masculinity and about their work in relation to the topic.

Within the third and final part of the series we asked both students Max Walker from Camberwell College Illustration and Favour Jonathan from Central Saint Martins Fine Art How do they define Masculinity?

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“I am a lotus, just like the flower I am pure.

I am sacred and I am strong.

The waters I grow from may be dark and murky but I stand strong

No matter how hard it gets, I stand strong

I stand tall

My flower will always rise above the mud

And then

I’ll embrace the sun and slowly you will see my beauty’’.

SON: How do you define Masculinity?

Favour Jonathan:  I am African and I’ve grown up with the thought that Masculinity is ‘Being strong, having POWER, being confident and a heterosexual male with a lack of emotion’ but it’s beyond that. Masculinity is being strong physically and mentally, it has nothing to do with gender.

SON: What ‘constructs’ do you feel add value or demonise masculinity in the creative sectors?

Favour Jonathan: Insensitivity to others’ views and feelings are bad, collaboration and selfishness is discouraged, but the traditional view of a creative as a genius who works by themselves seems to value masculinity and its reluctance to depend on others. Also, work by males is seen as more valid than females’ work maybe because of this relation to others.

SON: How do you think these ‘constructs’ will change over time?

Favour Jonathan: I think it won’t change easily but when people understand more about equality and equity the term masculinity will be irrelevant within the creative sectors.

SON: How does your work add to the narrative of Masculinity?

Favour Jonathan: I was inspired by the portrayal of Black men on television and in the media as tough, often violent and sometimes beastly, and from that I chose to mix the delicate lotus flower in the colour pink to show softness and struggle. The lotus grows from dark waters to be something beautiful, and sacred to many cultures.

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SON: How do you define Masculinity?

Max Walker: Through form: a masculine form is angular.

SON: What ‘constructs’ do you feel add value or demonise masculinity in the creative sectors?

Max Walker: I feel the recent (past few decades) change in views towards both gender and masculinity/femininity have pushed these the public’s opinions towards a more accepting one, and have only helped the creative industry be more liberal in their views towards gender. The recent approval of certain transgender artists (amongst other cross-dressing and effeminate artists)  have only helped push masculinity and femininity in a converging direction. These factors have definitely ‘added value’ to masculinity, but perhaps not in the way it may have been defined a few decades ago.

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SON: How do you think these ‘constructs’ will change over time?

Max Walker: It will only improve. The public’s views on gender will be more open, allowing the view to be centred on the creative output rather than the gender. In a digital future, artists will not need to show their gender in order to be respected as a creator.

SON: How does your work add to the narrative of Masculinity?

Max Walker: By highlighting the angular forms of the male body and though using a colour often associate to the masculine stereotype: blue.

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