“Digital Divas” comments on gender politics

Artist Slim Cook collides his nostalgic love for motorcycles with his new designer life of model-making in his exhibition of “Digital Divas.” The Oklahomans for Equality Center held his powerful art exhibit throughout the month of September. Cook advocates for gender identity. During his interview with “the Gayly,” Cook pondered if technology and humans become one form, would gender become “obsolete?” Overall, this exhibit covers the concepts of beauty, gender identity and body enhancement.
Cook is a Tulsa native. His love for art began when he was twelve years old. He would airbrush cars and motorcycles. He later pursued art at Tulsa Community College, finishing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Oklahoma. He continued to get his Master’s in fine arts at Temple University in Philadelphia. Now, he works in model-making for the fashion industry in New York. He is very interested in the body enhancement elements of fashion. All of his art pieces are made of metal, wood, plastic, paper and/or electronics.
Tucked in a small room in the back of the building, I trekked through many doorways to finally reach the exhibit. The first item that caught my eye was this massive winged being. It was the largest piece in the entire exhibit, standing ten feet tall and four feet wide. The title of the figure was “Set free the better Angels of our nature” alluding to Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural speech. This particular piece came with a small description stating: “…struggling to free herself from the bondage of narrow minded thinking and replace Fear with Hope, Hate with Love, and Prejudice with Tolerance.” The being was dressed in a golden outfit with the words “Liberty,” “Love” and “Justice” written on the arms and chest. It was chained to the ground by a large spiked trap garnished with the words “prejudice,” “fear” and “hate.”
Next, “House of De Milo presents Sexual Roulette Featuring The Spirit of Dali” showcased Cook’s stance on sexual identity. The figure stood about seven feet tall with a pearl white bust of Aphrodite sitting on top. Below the bust was a mustard yellow skirt pulled up for all to see beneath it. Under the skirt were three colored condoms filled with liquid to adhere its shape above a Barbie doll sitting spread eagle, tied to a roulette wheel, all illuminated by small lights. I interpret this work as the ambiguity of “what’s under her skirt?” Genitalia doesn’t define someone’s gender and their inner feelings, only their scientifically pronounced sex.
The next four creations were all mannequin heads dressed up in different head gear and makeup.
The first head was “The Lipstick Jungle,” placed upon a draped leopard print scarf. The head was adorned with several colorful feathers pointing downward. The face was a darker pigment with green eyes. On the high points of the face, it was decorated in gold flakes.
Next, “La Puissance De La Vision” was propped up onto a wooden stand. It has gladiator-like head armor on with a white light illuminating upward. The face was white with bronze goggles and two light bulbs as eyes. The lips are bright ruby red.
Next, “Video Valkyrie” also sits upon a wooden stake. It was pigmented white with messy golden smears of glitter from her brow to cheek to temple. One of the eyes was realistic while the other was a light bulb encaged by a lense. The lips match her rusty red headdress. The headdress was metallic, pointy, and futuristic.
Lastly, the “Digital Diva” herself. The metallic neck was decorated with red drapery and was illuminated by red LEDs. The face was youthful with a shimmery futuristic highlight. There was red pigment surrounding the eyes and contouring the face. On each side of the scalp are bell-shaped fixtures with red light bulbs poking outward.
As a viewer, I was disappointed in the size of the gallery. There were only six art pieces. Four of which had very similar mannequin head structure. Although, the other two made up for the lack of content. “Set free…” and the “House of De Milo…” spoke so loudly that they could’ve been displayed alone. They are most influential on the subject of societal norms rendering human advancement and seeking true life purpose.

Post Author: Cheyanne Wheat