Warning: These cross-stitches may not be suitable for work.
There's a certain sheen coating the actors and scenes in 21st century pornography that real life just doesn't have. Skin glistens but doesn't drip with sweat; all attention is on the viewer. This aesthetic has persisted in spite of waves of backlash, including Rashida Jones's documentary "Hot Girls Wanted," which scrutinized the dreams promised to both actresses and viewers involved with the amateur porn industry.
Jones is decidedly not anti-porn, but what she does take issue with is our sexualization of young girls, saying in an interview with Yahoo, "It’s cast, it’s lit, it’s scripted; and most of the young girls who go into amateur porn are very young, which makes it seem like they might just be the girl next door."
Jones may be one of the most public figures to speak so actively against the shiny and potentially detrimental nature of porn, but plenty of artists use the industry as inspiration for their work. One such artist: Leah Emery, whose needlework offers a stark juxtaposition to the slick bodies from porn scenes she recreates.
"Despite [sex] being such a basic human function," Emery worries that we're not able to explore sex and intimacy "with candor." But by taking a scene that would normally be viewed in private and making it a public image -- created using a traditional craft -- she hopes the conversation can be destigmatized.
"To view the work is an open invitation for the viewer to explore their own gut reaction," Emery said in an interview with The Huffington Post.
Plus, her work takes a historically functional, feminine craft and adds a bit of a kick to it. Emery, a self-proclaimed fidgiter, enjoys mediums that allow her to work with her hands: cooking, carpentry and needlework. She got the idea to create more explicit stitched scenes when she started receiving pornographic spam while working as a video game developer.
"It was such a perfectly chaotic fit," she said, noting that the result reflected her own cringe-inducing response to being sent unsolicited pornography. "It's expanded over the last several years into a fully 'fleshed out' research project that pushes me to try to probe the limits of [...] sexual expression."
View Leah Emery's cross-stitched scenes below.
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