Erin Cameron rearranges ideas of beauty in 'Fragments of Reality'

Joel Oliphint

For her Master of Fine Arts degree, Erin Cameron studied printmaking at Ohio State, but in the process she rejected much of the strictures associated with the discipline.

“I like to be able to change things, and a lot of times printmaking doesn't allow for that. I like to be able to pencil something in or erase it or paint over it. And I can't really do that with prints,” Cameron said. “Because people are printing editions, it's about being clean and precise with all these prints. But I can't work that way. I'm kind of a messy artist.”

Cameron found similarly frustrating restrictions within the medium of collage. When assembling images taken from fashion and pop culture magazines, she didn’t like the resulting aesthetic — the glossy paper, the glue. “And I wanted to distance myself from those images,” she said.

Over time, Cameron, a Cleveland native, found a new creative process that incorporated her background in drawing and painting. “I'm responding to the imagery from those sources, but I don't actually cut and paste anything directly from a magazine. It's more of an interpretation of these images — changing things and rearranging things. So everything will be either hand drawn or hand painted, and then sometimes cut apart,” she said. “It's less of a physical collage and more of just bringing together different images. … By changing things and drawing things and manipulating those images, I could get further away from what they originally meant.”

Some of Cameron’s work will be featured in “Fragments of Reality,” a duo show with Sky Dai that opens at 934 Gallery this weekend. In addition to a virtual opening on Friday, July 10, at 7 p.m. on Facebook, the exhibition will be available to view in person during open gallery hours every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m., with a maximum capacity of four guests at a time. (Appointments are also available to book at 934’s website.)

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Cameron has been on this artistic path for several years now, and while paging through various magazines, she has noticed certain disturbing, recurring themes related to idealized beauty standards for women. “Growing up as a woman, you see things that are generally demanded of you, so this is a response to some of those demands,” said Cameron, who reacts to those manufactured ideas of unattainable beauty by mutating and contorting the female form into anatomically impossible arrangements.

Mouths and lips, in particular, show up often in Cameron’s work. “The mouth is a prominent feature in a lot of advertising and, in terms of feminine images, it’s always hyper-sexualized. It's always an open mouth; it's never a subtle mouth. It's always prominent, with super colorful, glossy lipstick,” she said.

Sometimes Cameron’s artwork pops with bright colors that resemble the magazine advertisements, while other times she sticks to the grayscale of graphite. “Graphite has a darker tone,” she said. “And if the imagery is from a lot of disparate sources, sometimes it's easier to bring those together with a unifying medium and just take the color out.”

"Fragments of Reality: Erin Cameron & Sky Dai"

934 Gallery

Virtual opening 7 p.m. Friday, July 10

Open hours noon-3 p.m. Saturdays or by appointment

934 Cleveland Ave., Milo-Grogan

"Drying Flowers" (acrylic paint on paper, 28 x 35 5/8 in.) by Erin Cameron


"Well Oiled Machine II" (Lithograph, 12 x 17 in.) by Erin Cameron