Debutantes: Amber Koroluk Stephenson - Art Collector

Issue 59, January - March 2012

This profile appeared in the Debutantes feature, part of the annual special issue 50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2012.

Born: 1988
First commercial gallery solo exhibition: December 2012, Bett Gallery, Hobart

They could be film stills from the opening phase of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet or John Waters’s Hairspray. Whether photographs or oil on canvas, Amber Koroluk Stephenson’s works exude a perfect scent of 1950s kitsch and while there’s a considerable dollop of humour, it is delivered with an acidic twist. Indeed, for some odd reason, looking at these works, I began pondering the grotesque practice of Chinese foot-binding.

Women, throughout history, have been burdened with notions of fashion and what it is to be considered attractive. Whether it be feet or hair or whalebone corsets or waxing there is inevitably pain involved. But appearances must be maintained, even if, as one of Stephenson’s titles attest, She’s too Hip to be Happy.

“Social constructs create stereotypes that define femininity,” Stephenson says. “Nostalgic femininity is part of my day-to-day life and I collect it obsessively. In the present these things hold new social and cultural meaning and value. This body of work reflects upon an era when the feminine persona was more or less dictated, a time when women only wore dresses or skirts and hesitated to leave the house without first applying lippy.”

Ashley Crawford

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