Emma Duehr // Artist // Portland Oregon
TRIGGER WARNING: This interview contains graphic statics and content about sexual violence.
“Talking Tushies” is a social project by Emma Duehr aiming to discourage future inappropriate or violent actions perpetrated by men in the United States. By creating embroidered patches for the back pocket of women’s pants with sexual assault statistics embroidered upon them Duehr hopes to spread awareness of the problems that many women face on a daily basis. Duehr believes that wearing “Talking Tushies” will make a difference in some men’s behavior by educating the unaware on the horrifying statistics of sexual violence and misconduct in the U.S. Every time a statistic patch is spotted, she hopes to help save a woman in this country from future sexual harassment. “Talking Tushies” was created to empower women to walk fearlessly and with confidence.
“I’ve come to the terms that there is no way to stop men from looking at my ass, and this will never change. Therefore, I am starting to use my ass as a goddamn billboard to teach deviant men a lesson. I refuse to walk in fear any longer; I am choosing to walk with confidence that I can make a change in rising sexual assault statistics in our country.” - Emma Duehr
1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?
Social networks are fabulous places to advertise your work, collect inspirational works, and to display your portfolio on an easily reached network. My project, “Talking Tushies” is currently dependent on the internet to spread the project to vast lengths. I use the internet as a platform to build relationship with interested buyers and supporters. Utilizing social networks to host conversations with individuals who share similar interests is a great way to get people involved. I post all of my work on many social sites, such as instagram, facebook, tumblr, and my personal website. Interested supports are able to easily contact me with through comments, private messages, and a link to my email.
2. Where do you find inspiration for your work? In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?
My main inspiration for my work derives from personal experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Talking Tushies has built an online community for women to share their own stories as well as purchase a pocket patch to get involved. Sharing stories within a social environment allows many women the comfortability to express themselves in ways they never thought they could. The media inspires my work in many ways; ranging from collecting news articles that interest me, to sharing my personal experiences and ideas.
3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?
I received my BFA from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa in 2017 and am currently a graduate student at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. I use my artistic platform to express my views and evoke change; art making has been my primary voice in society for about 8 years. My work aims to start conversations that are difficult to have, but in public environments. My voice is directly heard by my audience, on subjects that desperately need attention.
4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?
I have designed an object that many women in our country are interested in supporting, but not all women want to provide payment. I have had 10+ private messages asking if it was “okay to make their own.” I respond saying that “Talking Tushies” is copyrighted in my name and I would appreciate it if they wouldn’t. I am thankful that these women asked before they assumed they could. Some people in our society understand this concept, others unfortunately do not. I am thankful that I have not encountered any problems with idea infringement.
5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?
Follow your creative flow and don’t force anything; the greatest ideas are born when least expected. Take pictures of all of your work, even the really ‘bad’ ones; those ‘bad’ works might make more sense to you in your future. Take risks; when someone disagrees with you, stand your ground and prosper. Make a community with people that share the same interests as you; the friendly conversations centered around your work leads to the greatest successes.
All images provided by the artist