Block title

Boyfriends

In researching the subject of desire, my main interest lies in how constructed stereotypes around sexual emotions, experiences, and identities are propagated in mass-produced images such as commercial advertising, which in turn influence personal identity. I am creating a series of larger-than-life boyfriends appropriated from romance novels. These flimsy cut-paper men of the Boyfriends Series are attempts to fill the voids of unattainable love; they are the “stand ins” for boyfriends I cannot attain in real life. In eliminating the women from these cover relationships, I can insert myself, or the viewer can insert him or herself. Composed of diaristically notated romance novel pages and painstakingly rendered in colored pencil, these Boyfriends are evocative of the obsessive nature of desire and longing. In these saturated works, notions of secrecy, voyeurism and subversion, typically associated with male homosexuality, are offset by billboard-size amplifications of desirable men.

  • Untitled

    digital prints from romance novel and gay erotic magazine on cotton and organza; mounted to board 19" x 26"
  • Detail: NSA Boyfriends

    attractive men cut-away from their romantic partners on the covers of straight and gay romance novels and erotica, mounted to Bristol board; found picture frames variable dimensions
  • NSA Boyfriends

    attractive men cut-away from their romantic partners on the covers of straight and gay romance novels and erotica, mounted to Bristol board; found picture frames variable dimensions
  • White Trash Trade Boyfriend

    Romance novel pages, gay erotica pages and ads, Tyvek, china marker, color pencil, acrylic, vintage fabric 91”x 59”
  • Wings of Love Boyfriend

    Romance novel pages fused to canvas, gouache, color pencil, gold paint pen 80" x 80"
  • Detail: Mountain Lovesong Boyfriend

    Romance novel pages fused to canvas, coded with markers, highlighter, pens; color pencil, soiled pillowcase, vintage plaid, craft felt 56”x 42”
  • Mountain Lovesong Boyfriend

    Romance novel pages fused to canvas, coded with markers, highlighter, pens; color pencil, soiled pillowcase, vintage plaid, craft felt 56”x 42”
  • Captive Heart Boyfriend

    Romance novel pages fused to canvas, coded with markers, highlighter, pens; color pencil 94”x 35”
  • Detail: Journey Into Love Boyfriend

    Romance novel pages fused to canvas, coded with markers, highlighter, pens; color pencil 56”x 37”
  • Journey Into Love Boyfriend

    Romance novel pages fused to canvas, coded with markers, highlighter, pens; color pencil 56”x 37”

Text Works

I select passages and titles from romance novels to draw attention to the perceived weight of these words. In the context of the romance novel, erotic magazine or website heading, such words transport the reader to a mythical, fantastical world of lusty, overwrought passion—romance with all the trappings of pastoral settings, blushed cheeks, exposed flesh, handsome men, and buxom women. Isolated from their context, though, these words stand as inane substitutions of the acts or emotions they represent, and their meaning is simultaneously heightened and deflated.

  • Dream of Darkness

    Quilted t-shirts and underwear belonging to the artist, craft felt 44”x 56”
  • The Raptures of

    father's flannel shirt, foam, velcro 37" x 22" x 2"
  • Detail: The Raptures of

    father's flannel shirt, foam, velcro 37" x 22" x 2"
  • MANHUNT

    Afghan, craft felt, romance novel pages fused to canvas 18”x 78”
  • Detail: MANHUNT

    Afghan, craft felt, romance novel pages fused to canvas 18”x 78”
  • gasped & grunted

    found quilt, craft felt 13”x 90”
  • Detail: gasped & grunted

    found quilt, craft felt 13”x 90”
  • ADAM4ADAM

    Afghan, craft felt, vintage cotton piecework, romance novel pages fused to canvas 17”x 92”
  • ADAM4ADAM

    Afghan, craft felt, vintage cotton piecework, romance novel pages fused to canvas 17”x 92”

The Brambles

  • Detail: The Embrace

    Romance novel and gay erotic pages with notes, backed to canvas, vintage mirrored floral wallpaper 36" x 45"
  • The Embrace

    Romance novel and gay erotic pages with notes, backed to canvas, vintage mirrored floral wallpaper 36" x 45"
  • The Brambles Series (#5)

    Romance novel and gay erotic paper cut-out, vintage mirrored floral wallpaper; framed 11" x 14"
  • The Brambles Series (#4-6)

    Romance novel and gay erotic paper cut-outs, vintage mirrored floral wallpaper; framed 11" x 14" each
  • The Brambles Series (#2)

    Romance novel and gay erotic paper cut-outs, vintage mirrored floral wallpaper; framed 11" x 14"
  • The Brambles Series (#1-3)

    Romance novel and gay erotic paper cut-outs, vintage mirrored floral wallpaper; framed 11" x 14" each
  • The Right Stuff Boyfriend

    gay erotica pages fused to canvas, paint pen, floral print fabric 108" x 71"
  • The Right Stuff Boyfriend

    gay erotica pages fused to canvas, paint pen, floral print fabric 108" x 71" Installed in old bank vault in Quirk Gallery, Richmond, VA

Wearing Him Series

In the Wearing Him Series, various images of attractive men are clipped from romance novels, magazines and erotica, then enlarged, digitally printed, and sewn into clothing items.

Man Shy

Man Shy began as a series of quilt works that use images from gay erotica magazines of the 1980s – early 2000s, combined with traditional quilting techniques. My first installment of this work consisted of two quilts presented on twin beds, a reference to my childhood relationship with my brother. In these works, both the enlarged images of men and the traditional quilt patterns are disintegrating, or losing clarity as a whole. In an outright queer maneuver, the cheap gay smut rag is repurposed and embedded in the trappings of a teen fantasy bedroom: quilted covers, curtains and posters.

  • Net Guy

    Digitally-printed cotton & silk organza mounted to board, crocheted netting, floral appliqué 19”x 25”
  • Blue Beau

    Digitally-printed cotton, hand-printed floral print fabric, quilting 28”x 28”
  • Package #4

    Digitally-printed cotton, quilting, crochet 20”x 26”
  • Drapes Guy

    Digitally-printed cotton, polyester sateen, curtain rod and hooks 30”x 21”
  • Little Big Man

    Enlarged scans from "FirstHand" gay magazine covers, digitally-printed on cotton sateen; quilted with fusible appliqué 60" x 74"
  • Bedroom Buddies

    Enlarged scans from "FirstHand" gay magazine covers, digitally-printed on cotton sateen; quilted with fusible appliqué 61" x 75"
  • "Man Shy" Installation

    "Man Shy" Solo Exhibition Russell/Projects Richmond, VA Oct-Nov 2010

The Couch

Straight romance novels, erotic magazines, gay smut novels: in the same space a potential message gets confusing. The one quality binding them all is the reading space of romantic or sexual material: the domestic setting. These print materials must be written with the home in mind, since it is the most private space for which to escape from workaday drudgery into romantic dreaminess or sexual fantasy. Don’t we all want to be somewhere more idyllic, a place to become comfortably aroused? It is from the couch or bed that these fantasies take flight. I wanted the couch itself to be a readable object. A “homey” look of patchwork, which from a distance is inviting, warm yellow in color and well-worn, but in closer proximity reveals a barrage of homoerotic titles, colorful straight novel couples, illustrated gay men en flagrante, and text from both straight and gay sources. While some images and titles might be aggressive or over-sexualized on their own, they are dulled by the conflation of so many disparate desire-driven images and text. There is no hierarchy—the work is a mash-up, a patchwork of mediated desires. The Couch is everyone’s non-linear, messy, meandering sexual and romantic cognitive journey.

  • The Couch Installation

    Exhibition view, facing "Dream of Darkness," "An Indecent Obsession" VCU's Anderson Gallery Richmond, VA
  • Detail: The Couch

    digitally printed images from romance novels & gay erotica on cotton, piecework; vintage Colonial-style couch 35”x 72”x 36”
  • Detail: The Couch

    digitally printed images from romance novels & gay erotica on cotton, piecework; vintage Colonial-style couch 35”x 72”x 36”
  • Detail: The Couch

    digitally printed images from romance novels & gay erotica on cotton, piecework; vintage Colonial-style couch 35”x 72”x 36”
  • Detail: The Couch

    digitally printed images from romance novels & gay erotica on cotton, piecework; vintage Colonial-style couch 35”x 72”x 36”
  • The Couch

    digitally printed images from romance novels & gay erotica on cotton, piecework; vintage Colonial-style couch 35”x 72”x 36”

fragments

As the internet makes trolling for sex a very private domestic activity, replacing the casual social milieu of the gay bar and its cruising culture, I wonder how our relationships with domestic objects will change? In a new body of work, fragments, I have pushed traditional quiltmaking to reveal the secrecy, insecurity, uncertainty and ecstasy that often accompanies queer interaction with domesticity.

"A printed 'locker jock' pieced with floral prints, patchwork used to veil his face just as pixels blur features of one’s Manhunt profile."

The scrappy piecework and unfinished quilts are stand-ins for unfinished, fragmentary, multi-faceted and evolving identities and relationships. Some are personal, many are imagined. This melding of grandma craft and image-obsessed gay erotics is fleeting, flirtatious and ongoing—it evades definition and concrete analysis.

New Works

This collection of new works includes "The Bear," "Forest Frolic" and "Weeds." Created for a two-person exhibition titled "Untended," these varied works utilize commonplace textiles and domestic handicrafts to locate them thematically within the domain of personal, formative, and childhood experiences. As such, the work is simultaneously erotic and innocent, reminiscent of an adolescent’s first curious glimpses into anatomy textbooks or a parent’s hidden magazine collection.

Simultaneously, this work is a respective conceptual investigation into the relationship between craft and queerness, particularly how engagement with a certain ‘low-class’ of materials may align their work with other forms of queer cultural production located outside the normative art-historical mainstream.

  • Weeds: Quackgrass

    romance novels, gay porn magazines, “Readers’ Mail” sexual encounter stories digitally printed on cotton, afghan blanket, printed cloth, craft felt, paper
  • Weeds: Dandelion

    romance novels, gay porn magazines, “Readers’ Mail” sexual encounter stories digitally printed on cotton, afghan blanket, printed cloth, craft felt, paper
  • Portrait of Axie with Weeds: Dandelion

    Exhibition installation digital photograph, mounted to plexiglass
  • Weeds: Briars

    romance novels, gay porn magazines, “Readers’ Mail” sexual encounter stories and personals ads digitally printed on cotton, afghan blanket, craft felt, paper
  • Forest Frolic

    digital print on cotton, vintage printed cloth, batting, acrylic yarn; quilting
  • Weeds: Broadleaf Plantain (Detail)

    romance novels, gay porn magazines, “Readers’ Mail” sexual encounter stories and personals ads digitally printed on cotton, afghan blanket, craft felt, paper
  • Weeds: Pigweed

    romance novels, gay porn magazines, “Readers’ Mail” sexual encounter stories and personals ads digitally printed on cotton, afghan blanket, craft felt, paper
  • The Bear

    plaster, wood, shredded gay porn, vintage crazy quilt, bedspread, felt, velvet
  • The Bear

    plaster, wood, shredded gay porn, vintage crazy quilt, bedspread, felt, velvet

Invasive

Ruminating on our relationship with weeds led me to the thorny association Southerners have with kudzu, an invasive species imported at mid-century from Japan to stabilize poor soil. Both environmental nuisance and fixture of the Southern landscape, this tenacious vine contributes to our Gothic mythologizing of the South. Invasive kudzu—much like homophobia—taps into our fears of otherness and strangeness. Like ideology, it engulfs everything. Hills, trees and old buildings are disarticulated in a dense stranglehold that obscures culture and makes same that which is unique. While many parts of the US move towards gay marriage equality and expanded rights for LGBTQ people, the South is often contrasted as backwards and backsliding. Lost in this politicized fray are the lives, memories, stories and archives of Southern queers and their ingenuity contending with the status quo.

My proposed project, Invasive, subverts the negative characterization of invasive species and uses queer kudzu as a tool of visibility, strength and tenacity in the face of presumed ‘unwantedness’. I will collect stories and archive documents from Baltimore’s LGBTQ as well as from archives across Southern states. These images and texts will be reproduced on fabric and quilted as kudzu, eventually forming a formidable mass of queerness. My botanic archive draws on the preeminence of quilting in Southern folkways and Baltimore’s famed Album Quilts.

  • Invasive Takeover: Mt. Vernon

    Proposed Invasive installation in Mt. Vernon Square, Baltimore, MD.
  • Kudzu Double Portrait

    Collaboration with Nicholas Clifford Simko 2014 archival digital print
  • Invasive

    Collaboration with Nicholas Clifford Simko 2014 archival digital print
  • Invasive Species

    2014 machine-knitted wool, acrylic yarn, spandex, wire armature, thread; personal ads, sexual encounter stories, Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" excerpts digitally printed on cotton, vintage fabrics, cotton batting, thread 86" x 47" x 22"

Strange Terrain

Collaborative works created with Nicholas Clifford Simko for winter exhibition at EMP Collective Gallery in Baltimore, MD.

Some lands actively evade being mapped by even the most skilled cartographers. In Strange Terrain, artists Aaron McIntosh and Nick Clifford Simko have fabricated a queer world in the form of textile artworks. Conceptually the exhibition considers man’s complex relationship with nature, obscured histories, and the multilayered implications of material culture. Like so much of the duality found throughout the work in the exhibition, its title references thematic links between wilderness and gay
culture as well as both artists’ first journey into collaborative territory.

As there was so much overlap with their areas of artistic inquiry, they decided to collaboratively create two new pieces for this exhibition: The Stake and The Archers & The Quarry. Both artists bring their own personal voice to these recent works in addition to selections from their individual studio practices. McIntosh’s sculptures specifically address Southern textile traditions and the material dialects of desire. Simko’s tapestries, on the other hand, examine the role of literary devices like allegory in visual culture.

  • The Stake, Detail

    In Collaboration with Nicholas Clifford Simko 2014 woodgrain of artists' skin digitally printed on cotton jersey, found fabrics, yarn, wire and paper armatures, thread 119" x 40" x 40"
  • The Stake, Detail

    In Collaboration with Nicholas Clifford Simko 2014 woodgrain of artists' skin digitally printed on cotton jersey, found fabrics, yarn, wire and paper armatures, thread 119" x 40" x 40"
  • The Stake

    In Collaboration with Nicholas Clifford Simko 2014 woodgrain of artists' skin digitally printed on cotton jersey, found fabrics, yarn, wire and paper armatures, thread 119" x 40" x 40" The Stake is a contemporary response to the trial by fire suffered by cultural outsiders throughout the ages.
  • The Quarry, Detail

    In Collaboration with Nicholas Clifford Simko 2014 jaquard-woven tapestries, upholstery fabric, thread
  • The Quarry, Detail

    In Collaboration with Nicholas Clifford Simko 2014 jaquard-woven tapestries, upholstery fabric, thread
  • The Archers & The Quarry

    In Collaboration with Nicholas Clifford Simko 2014 jaquard-woven tapestries, upholstery fabric, thread

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About Aaron

Aaron McIntosh grew up in the Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee, where his families’ working class environments and domestic activities such as quiltmaking have figured large in his visual vocabulary. He received a BFA from the Appalachian Center for Craft and a MFA from Virginia Commonwealth... more

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