Artist Introspectives

Things That Look Like Me

Vinsantos. SHE LIVES ALONE, detail, 2016. Polymer clay, cosmetics, quartz crystal, vintage and antique jewelry and accessories, 16" x 46". Courtesy of the artist.

Vinsantos. SHE LIVES ALONE, detail, 2016. Polymer clay, cosmetics, quartz crystal, vintage and antique jewelry and accessories, 16″ x 46″. Courtesy of the artist.

I’ve always surrounded myself with things that look like me, accumulating objects worn and distressed. Piles of antique and vintage ephemera cluttered my home for years, long before I had the idea of putting these things to use. I admit it: I was a hoarder. But instead of collecting out-of-date magazines or cereal boxes or plain old garbage, I was drawn to anything handcrafted.

The idea of throwing away these objects, which someone had poured their heart and soul into, was unacceptable to me. Whether an ornate candleholder, or a broken piece of costume jewelry, or some old, decorative hardware: it was someone’s art, and all art should be preserved. My visual-art career began with mosaics, which led almost seamlessly into assemblage art, created from things that I found both beautiful and interesting, often from the street. In my assemblages, characters began to form and grow. This was never my intention, it just happened. Soon, I was introduced to the world of art dolls through a friend working in the medium. My entry into the world of doll making felt organic, like the next natural step.

Vinsantos. SHE LIVES ALONE, 2016. Polymer clay, cosmetics, quartz crystal, vintage and antique jewelry and accessories, 16″ x 46″. Courtesy of the artist.

these repurposed and reinvented objects hold decades and centuries of stories within themselves.

As a drag performance artist and a musician, I have spent most of my adult life on the stage. Being in the spotlight definitely feeds the ego, but at the same time it taxes the private life that I hold dear. Doll making allows me to work with the tools of my trades within a degree of anonymity. It also justifies my habitual collecting. The characters I create are inspired by my life as an entertainer and the people who I have been so fortunate to work beside. Musicians, drag and burlesque performers, circus and sideshow folk, costumers, and hair and makeup stylists all contribute the ideas that form these one-of-a-kind creatures. The old and mostly discarded objects that decorate my dolls give them an immediate sentimentality; these repurposed and reinvented objects hold decades and centuries of stories within themselves.

My commissioned works take the art of the sentimental in a deeper direction; clients first rummage through their collections, putting together objects with personal value and historical significance. I’ll often consider these items for weeks before I feel they have found their proper places. I don’t want to be too mystical, but I often sense that I am channeling the energy left in these items by their previous owners. In this process, the lines between art and magic become blurred. I see the art that I create as a mash-up of sculpture, assemblage, fashion design, makeup, and hair artistry. I also see it as the reinvention and preservation of beauty.

Vinsantos. BELLA BLUE, detail, 2016. Polymer clay, cosmetics, acrylic, found objects. Courtesy of the artist.

Vinsantos. BELLA BLUE, detail, 2016. Polymer clay, cosmetics, acrylic, found objects. Courtesy of the artist.

Vinsantos. WITCH, 2016. Commissioned work. Polymer Clay, cosmetics, clients personal items, 14" x 36". Courtesy of the artist.

Vinsantos. WITCH, 2016. Commissioned work. Polymer Clay, cosmetics, clients personal items, 14″ x 36″. Courtesy of the artist.

 

  1. Pingback: Kendall Talks To The Legendary Vinsantos About His Seattle Show, New Orleans, Dolls & All Things Dragtastic | Seattle Gay Scene | Your Daily Gay In Seattle

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