All About That Vase

Artist Meegan Barnes creates voluptuous ceramic booties that double as planters and statues. Ass worship meets interior design.

By Annie Walton Doyle

Barnes’ goal with her vases is not to make women feel jealous or insecure, but rather to embrace all shapes and sizes of the female form. (  Meegan Barnes  )

Barnes’ goal with her vases is not to make women feel jealous or insecure, but rather to embrace all shapes and sizes of the female form. (Meegan Barnes)

For someone who now makes a living out of crafting booties, it took a long time for LA-based artist Meegan Barnes to appreciate her own.

“I always hated my butt because it was kinda thick,” she confided to OK Whatever. “It was the ‘90s and 2000s and everybody wanted to look like Kate Moss. I went everywhere with a sweater tied around my waist trying to hide it.”

All that changed when she went on a trip to Brazil in 2007 and was inspired by the body confidence of females she saw there — “proud, confident women with butts of all shapes and sizes.”

On her return to the U.S, Barnes started working with clay and creating backsides just felt natural to the medium. It remained a hobby of hers until 2015, when she realized that butts were a “thing” and decided to devote her energies to ceramics full time.

These days, she peddles a number of derriere options. She hand crafts large, one of a kind, fine art sculptures that can take three days just to build (and a few days more to glaze). Under her label B-Sides, she produces more affordable slip cast vases using plaster mold (that start at $125), as well as booty bookends and the occasional butt-centric bowl. Barnes’ work — which she describes as “pop art meets the Venus Of Willendorf” — has been exhibited at galleries including The New Museum in New York, Fifty24SF in San Francisco, and New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles.  

The appeal of Barnes’ work is not hard to spot. Her sculptures and vases typically feature tiny waists and exaggerated asses shaped like a bodacious cartoon or a Kardashian. Some pay homage to fashion designers — there are booties clad in Louis Vuitton, Fendi, or Versace-style panties. Others, like the Buns of Steel sculpture made in, yes, stainless steel, depict a naked butt in all its glory. For the more demure, some of her smaller vases are available “clothed” wearing gold or candy striped bikinis. And of course, a good many of them are also simply butt-naked.

Some of Meegan Barnes’ most notable wares:

Who’s buying them? Barnes’ customers tend to be millennials, as well as husbands buying them as gifts for their wives and girlfriends “because they secretly want one.” Cheeringly, they’re also appearing in the lobbies of eating disorder clinics as a reminder to women not to take body image too seriously.

Claws  actress Niecy Nash is the proud owner of one of Barnes’ Fendi-clad vases. (  Barnes  )

Claws actress Niecy Nash is the proud owner of one of Barnes’ Fendi-clad vases. (Barnes)

Of course, with the whole big booty trend — and let’s not even get into how a body part can come to be considered a trend — comes accusations of cultural appropriation. The attention paid to Kim Kardashian has long drawn criticism from commentators who object to a white woman being the poster girl for the big butt aesthetic.

And let’s not forget when Vogue showed its whiteness in 2014 declaring, “We’re officially in the era of the big booty.”

Barnes, though, insists that she has not yet been targeted, although she’s always ready for the question.

“Big butts come on people of all races — it’s just that they’ve been most appreciated by African-American and Latin cultures until recently,” she said. “They paved the way for women of all colors and cultures to appreciate their assets more.”

It’s certainly true in her case, and she’s cheerfully unabashed about riding the trend in her art.

“Am I capitalizing on the big booty trend? Hell yeah! Why not?”

 

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