Amanda Gough // Thigh-gaps And Classical Figure Study

There was something romantic about the house as I walked up the tree covered path. The blue home with it's wooden door felt dreamy against the lush green grass and bushes populating her front yard. Amanda met me at the door with her waist-high Great Dane, and total scaredy cat, Annie.

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"I fell into painting in college. I had always been creative, but I never considered it to be something I would pursue as a career. I'd been told art wasn't a practical choice, I would never be able to support myself with it. So, I entered college as a criminal justice major, prepared to join the military or law enforcement, but I still wanted my quintessential liberating college experience."

Amanda led the way through her house to check on a painting experiment outside. The warm hue of the walls, the wooden chest serving as a coffee table, the straw sunhat resting on the counter. It all matched her. It all matched her work. 

"I found out there were modeling positions for figure drawing classes, and I went to the art building to sign up. When I entered the building, there was an overwhelming sense of belonging. Paint was everywhere, on the floors, on the walls, on the chairs, on the tables. I had such a guttural reaction to my surroundings that I decided to listen to it; I never left. I started modeling that very semester. By the next, I was on the other side of the easel."

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After a tour of both her studio spaces, we settled into the downstairs studio. Classical music wafted through the cozy home, and I was transported. Her paints rested on an old rolling wooden table where a candle burned, filling the room with eucalyptus and peppermint. We move the easel around a few times to find the right light, but once we did, I felt I could be living in a painting by the old masters. I mean... a bunny literally showed up outside the window as she painted. It was like a Beatrix Potter meets Davinci. 

"My work is mostly about using art history as a way to reflect on aesthetics and societal body standards. I explore representations of the female body in past works by renowned artist from different influential art movements (mostly the Italian Renaissance at the moment). The female figure has always been the subject of artists' gaze, differing in representation based on its contemporary society. Seeing the physical changes of "the female muse", we can see how flexible the concept of beauty is."

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"I hate seeing women with crippling self doubt and insecurity because they believe they don't fit into societal standards. I want women to take life by the balls without concerning themselves with thigh gaps our Toblerone tunnels. I am no different, I am not above the insecurity. I have fallen into the same cycle where Ive tried to morph myself into someone I think people will admire -not my wit, intelligence, or sense of humor- my body. It's something I still work on every day. I want women to see other body types that are different but still celebrated. Bodies that were once considered the ideal figure. Then they can begin to understand that beauty standards contradict themselves. They are fictional, fluid concepts that change with every new audience."

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Aimee Bayles // The Emotional Power Of Music

Music drifts across the apartment as I walk back to grab a different lens from my bag. Aimee sits on her bed; guitar in her lap and lyric books spread in front of her. She’s working on a new song with a catchy hook and a gentle melody.

I can hear tinges of her influences, including Patty Griffin and Norah Jones along with the subtle blending of Harlem jazz, rockabilly, and folk music, woven across her music. Their commonality being the emphasis on vulnerable, story-telling and a deep connection to their place of origin.

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"I think music just ... has a way of cutting into the soul and into feelings that are hard to reach any other way. We make the art that we make because it's a part of ourselves that we want to carry outside so that other people can see it." says Aimee.

Through her new album, Enough, Aimee's voice rises and falls, saturated with nuanced feeling. She soars across an ode to finding a home far away from family in No One Can Tell Us No. Then she maintains her strength while letting us into the grief of her mom's passing a few years ago through, Enough, a song sung with mournful hope to her mother

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"I remember, when my mom died, not being able to play or sing for several months afterward. I couldn't bring myself to do it. Then one day it just felt like the time. I ended up sitting down with my guitar on my couch and playing through one of my favorite Patty Griffin songs. I was crying all the way through it, but in a way that felt cathartic and healing... It felt like she was there with me a little bit ... That opened up being able to get back into it again and sort of, move through."

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Somewhere in the middle of our session, we have a cup of tea together, bonding over our mutual love for Harry Potter via a mug that turns into the Marauder's Map when it gets hot. This nerdiness is a perfect example of the thing I love about Aimee, she's willing to talk about all her perceived shortcomings, but she's also unequivocally herself.

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