Artist Natalie Frank has always considered herself a feminist, but she is not your typical women’s rights activist. In fact, some modern-day feminists condemn her way of expressing herself.
Frank’s art is highly provocative. Her drawings deal with female sexuality and explore the world of dark fantasies and hidden desires, of which dominance and submission are important parts.
Frank has been painting and drawing women grasping at sexual power for a decade.
While at school Natalie wasn’t allowed to display her nudes, the head of the art department considered them pornographic. Natalie’s mom even accompanied her to all her classes in fear that something bad might happen to a girl painting naked people.
Fast forward to 2018, her NYC show nearly got cancelled because of the topic she’d chosen.
It wasn’t the first time the artist’s work has been deemed controversial. The series of The Brothers Grimm drawings, presented to the public in 2015, shocked the viewers. The Grimms’ fairy tales are much darker than children are led to believe these days, so Natalie set out to show the ‘unsanitized’ versions of their stories.
Her Rapunzel, for instance, is an old woman with a letter ‘R’ imprinted on her forehead. Other famous fables became tales about sex and violence.
Frank’s newest project includes 15 illustrations to the ‘Story Of O’, a book that’s been banned for several decades due to its explicit contents. The artist depicts various scenes from the scandalous BDSM novel, including a whipping and a threesome.
She’s been captivated by the book since her teenage years, and re-reads it regularly. The novel was a revelation for a Southern teen.
The reason Natalie worked on the drawings, however, is not solely the provocative nature of the ‘Story Of O’. The woman aims to start an important conversation about the freedom to choose any kind of sex life a person wants.
“I believe in individual freedom as it applies to how we see our own gender, sexuality and rights,” the woman told Huck Magazine.
There’s a point in that. The woman has been vocal about harassment in the art world. More than once men have perceived her drawings as an open invitation for sex. For that very reason it is so important for the artist to make her stand.
The time is right, too. ‘The Story Of O’ was rejected by a gallery in light of the recent #MeToo craze. The curators feared the portrayal of a woman submitting to a man willingly would fuel further railing.
“For the longest time we didn’t even want to talk about power and sex, and denied their connection, but that time is over,” the woman states.
Frank wishes to establish that women’s sexual desires exists and need to be acknowledged. Her feminism is in admitting that empowerment doesn’t always come with a factory robe and a red polka-dot headband. It may come with a whip and a set of handcuffs.
Deal with it.