Aidan is a ceramics artist who has been at RWS since March 2021.
Her work focuses on the many variations of the female form. The message behind the work is self love and acceptance and trying to capture the reality of the human body. “I’m trying to make what womxn are seeing in the mirror.” Life as a woman is her main inspiration. “It’s basically my own self-love journey materializing in clay….Selfishly, I also love the image of a nude body in art. I get to look at the things that I like, too.” When she started making the womxn’s forms she felt really vulnerable sculpting naked bodies, which was a reflection of her own relationship to nudity. She feels differently now that she’s been shaping these forms and “perfecting their imperfections” for a couple of years; she feels less vulnerable and is proud of the work and hopes her message of self love and acceptance carries over to whoever views it. A few years ago, Aidan received her undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in Race and Ethnic Studies and Women and Gender Studies from USM. A lot of the literature and history she studied informs her work today; representing different skin tones, shapes and non-cis gendered forms is a conscious decision. Her trans-body mug was the result of an interaction where a member of the trans community came into her booth and asked if she had ever made a trans body before. “I wasn’t sure if I should make it without being asked. It showed me that it’s something people want, simple representation.” Aidan often struggles with the way the work is being perceived. “I’m not always obviously represented in the communities that I sculpt. I don’t want people who see themselves directly in my work to think that I’m using their community for my own gain.” She sculpts all kinds of bodies, many of which are fat, older, or have surgery scars. This is a deliberate choice to bring attention to bodies that have less representation at large, and the idea of ‘thin privilege’, a system of privilege Aidan herself identifies with aside from her own body dysmorphic tendencies. “I do see myself in my work because it is a female form and that’s the universal understanding of it, but there are layers to that, too.” Body positivity and representation are her main goals. The lustered part of her hustle–an iridescent gold overglaze that embellishes her work–started off as an experiment, something that she liked because it’s pretty and is typically understood as the standard for worth. Now, she places gold on the parts of the womxn’s body that are typically censored as a way to force the viewer to look at those spaces: nipples, scars and pubic hair and other so-called ‘unmentionables’. “It’s a funny social experiment. Some people really understand my work and love it and other people giggle and look away and make fun of it.” Aidan is not offended by this response because she understands these viewers are not ready to face nudity, as it can evoke their own implicit stigmas surrounding the subject. To those who have yet to examine why they automatically respond this way, Aidan says cheekily, “Come back when you are ready.” The majority of people who are attracted to, or perhaps more comfortable being attracted to her artwork, are mostly women between the ages of 18-35.
Aidan hasn’t always been an artist but she’s always been drawn to ceramics. When she was reintroduced to clay in high school she was able to recall her first introduction to clay when she was seven during a class field trip to the Damariscotta Center for the Arts. “I remember the studio clearly. I remember picking out glazes. I remember so much of that.” She could recall how to throw and do things very basically; clay had stuck with her. She started making womxn’s forms in college. When she started posting her work on Instagram, she received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. “The community response to my work has been really incredible.” That fan base has kept growing and ceramics are now her full-time job. It can be stressful, knowing that almost everything she makes needs to sell and she’s hoping to make more time for experimentation. “The clay world is expanding now too. It was never considered ‘fine art’ until recently. It was always thought of as pottery, mostly functional stuff. It’s exciting to be on the crest of that change.” She’d like to increase the size of her work but doesn’t have the space for that right now. She is eager to see where this venture leads her. We are too. Aidan will be doing an Etsy drop this week (etsy.com/shop/lusterhustler). Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram (@luster_hustler).