Art Now: Mae Elvis

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'My work explores fantasy, performance and pushing standards of conventional beauty—and sometimes I just want to make people laugh. Making images serves as a means of self-exploration and a way to escape my own identity. Wearing a wig, applying makeup, choosing clothing that I wouldn’t necessarily wear in regular life allows me to delve into concerns of vanity in a constructive and ultimately instructive way. I don't do a lot of planning for the shoots. I check in with myself first and think about a part of me I'd like to learn about, stretch, or deviate from, and I go from there. Manipulating myself aesthetically helps to transform my body movements, explore personal vulnerabilities, and act on fantasies that could be too personal to share in regular life. I've always loved visual storytelling and how the culmination of clothing, maybe a piece of jewelry, a hairstyle, or the angle of an eyebrow can express so much. A lot of my images are inspired by #selfie culture. Selfies are this strange combination of staged, shallow, brave, and honest—I’m fascinated by this cultural phenomenon that’s fed and driven by a pure human desire for validation. I like the honesty of it. I feel way too chicken to post real selfies, but throw me a wig, some coral lipstick, and a fabulous power suit, and I'm ready to go.”—Mae Elvis

In the age of the selfie, Mae's work is both refreshing and beautifully vulnerable. The best part is that her images make me giggle—what a winning combination. Beauty is not real. Selfies are not real. Don't get me wrong—I love a good selfie, as most of us do. Instagram a moment you find beautiful, a teacup on a windowsill, your bowl of yogurt and granola, and the likes come tricking in. But post a selfie and your phone starts blowing up. Is that just the kind of culture we live in today? Seems to me from the beggining of time portraits always had the strongest pull on mankind. With her nod to Cindy Sherman's mode of exploration in contemporary culture, Mae captures just how serious selfies are to most women, but in a whimsical way. Making fun of beauty—and of yourself—is liberating.

—Stacey Nishimoto

Art courtesy of Mae Elvis. See more Art posts here.