Interview Series: Allie Pohl

Los Angeles-based artist Allie Pohl‘s concept “Ideal Woman” centers around the idea that modern society is obsessed with the “perfect woman.” It isn’t a far-fetched perspective… we see it everyday in advertising, magazines, movies and television. Extreme dieting is common for young women these days in order to remain thin, but is it all necessary? What is beauty, anyway?

According to Allie, these commercially packaged versions of beauty are illusions created by advanced technology, such as digital image alteration and/or plastic surgery resulting in “cookie cutter” women. Have you ever looked at a celebrity on a magazine cover and her face looks like Barbie? We LOVE LOVE LOVE Allie’s conceptual sculptures and innovative jewelry line – both which highlight the natural curves of the “Ideal Woman” – but also make a compelling statement! We sat down to chat with Allie about her feminine creations, and this is what she had to say:

Q&A 

LF: Where did your fascination with the female form begin?

AP: I have always been interested in why we follow certain cultural trends. For example, the concept of body hair and hair removal; we remove hair from certain parts of our body and add it to others. As a way to respond to this cultural phenomenon, I created a series of sculptures and had chia grow out of areas where our society removes unwanted hair: the armpit, midsection, and leg. My sculptures transformed from prepubescent to womanhood during their installation. I was captivated by the shape of the midsection and the androgynous female form and started to explore different ways to use the shape in my art work. As a way to appropriate my message into pop culture, I created the jewelry line “Ideal Woman: Necklace”.

LF: Your “Ideal Woman” concept is a commentary on the high standards our society has for women, through history to the modern day. Why do you think we have these standards or where do you think they came from?

AP: Society’s beauty standards are driven by commercialism. We are literally inundated with images that culturally outline feminine beauty. Historically, over time, what is considered “ideal” changes. However, the image of the “ideal” in today’s global society, through the use of technology and the media, is now seen more quickly and more often. The perfect woman is constructed through the utility of repetition, technology, and the idea of virtual.

LF: You talk about “commercially packaged versions of beauty” in a recent interview with Wetheurban magazine. Can’t you elaborate on what this means to you?

AP: I am talking about false advertising. Everything is photo shopped, airbrushed, and manipulated. These are commercially packaged versions of what beauty is – well thought out and well packaged presentations of western society’s ideal.

LF: Your work has had a positive and receptive response. What about your work do you think people identify with?

AP: I think that everyone can relate to the “idea” of perfection. My role as an artist is to hold a mirror up to society.

LF: It’s interesting to see both men and women wearing your necklaces. Did you have this in mind when you conceived the project, and how do you feel about “Ideal Woman” as being a universal symbol?

AP: I want my work to be open to different interpretations. Everyone looks at a piece of art with a different set of eyes and experiences. What is important to me is to make people reflect and think. I would love for the “Ideal Woman” to be a universally recognized symbol that both men and woman relate to. That would be a dream come true. Society resonates with iconic images or symbols. Just as the peace sign universally conveys a message, ultimately, I would love the Ideal Woman to be recognized as conveying its universal message.

LF: You’re a busy girl… or should I say… woman! Coming up you have the show in June at Plus Gallery in Denver and Incognito at the Santa Monica Museum. Any other big events in the near future?

AP: I have a couple of really exciting projects in development, but nothing is written in stone yet ! I am currently working on a new body of work titled “Mirror, Mirror”, which will have a corresponding jewelry line, which will be released at Plus Gallery, in Denver, CO. The exhibition and jewelry line is a series of words that both males and females most commonly use to describe themselves on various on-line dating sites.

LF: You’ve incorporated a variety of color into your jewelry line, as well as different mediums like wood and mirror. Can you talk about some of these design choices?

AP: Mirror is part of my vocabulary in my work, so it is important for me to have that medium be a part of my jewelry line as well. My original thought for choosing Lucite for the necklaces is that people are becoming more plastic. I recently added wood into the collection. Wood is just so natural and beautiful and I hand stain each piece. As for the colors, I started off with all of the opposite colors on the color wheel. I also looked at Mark Jacobs’ spring 2010 collection. I wanted my jewelry line to work with his clothes. I love his work.

LF: We love your names, the Stevie Nicks, the Audrey Hepburn and the Edie Sedgwick. Are these ideal women to you?

AP: Everyone who believes in and accepts themselves for who they are and follows their heart are ideal women. I believe these women did!

LF: What advice would you give to young women with body image issues?

AP: What is deemed as attractive in society always changes. So, be confident in who you are and what you are doing, as opposed to what you think society wants you to look like.

LF: Do you have any muses?

AP: Los Angeles is my muse right now!

LF: How fast do you live?

AP: New experiences. I always try to put myself in new experiences. It forces you to grow as a person.

LF: Art Talk: What inspires you? Favorite art or work?

AP: Donald Judd; Pipaloti Rist’s video work; Yoyoi Kusama’s and Warhol’s use of repetition; Barbara Kruger; Barbara Zucker’s humor in her before and after sculpture series; Tracey Emmon’s rawness and confrontation; Sarah Lucus; and, Julian Opie’s videos are so sexy!

LF: Sex Talk: What gets you off? Literally or figuratively?

AP: Walking up to a Donald Judd piece. Being in Yoyoi Kusamas’ light and mirror installation, OMG!

LF: Travel Talk: Favorite destination or travel stories (besides this epic journey) that you want to share?

AP: I love: Paris and the Palais De Tokyo; Barcelona and the Miro Museum; London and The Royal Academy and White Chapel.


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