When artist Rosea Lake (a.k.a. Rosea Posey) posted her piece Judgments on a social media site, she hoped a few people would see her work.
Now, just two weeks later, the 18-year-old has received well over 270,000 notes to her Tumblr site.
“It was so exciting to see what happened,” said Lake, who is currently a first-year student in the graphic arts program at Capilano University. “The best thing about it for me is this message has got out to all these people.”
And what’s the message that has incited all this interest? Well, Lake wants people not to jump to conclusions when it comes to women. In shor,t she wants to stop what she calls “slut shaming,” the act of judging women (whether scantily clad or completely covered) without having the complete story.
Judgments is a photograph of a woman in a black skirt taken from behind. Up the woman’s left leg is a series of 10 evocative words written in eyeliner.
In Lake’s vision each word corresponds with a skirt length going from “matronly,” just above the ankle to “proper,” at the knee. The last word on model Ali Mackenzie’s leg is “whore,” and it sits just below the curve of her buttocks.
“I realized that when I looked at a woman in a short skirt I automatically thought ‘slut’ — I felt bad about that,” said Lake, who shot the picture when she was 17 as part of a high school project. “And I thought all women who wore hijabs were being oppressed.
“I thought about slut shaming and thought we need to get to a place where we are not judgmental.”
And a good way to get to that place is to present ideas and inspire others to look a little closer, something Lake says has happened since the posting of her photo.
“People are using it for dialogue,” Lake said. “People are citing it in their work. I am realizing it has an impact on so many people. It’s funny, I had a hard time dealing with that at first.”
But as the dust settles the young artist realizes that the attention is fantastic.
“As a creative person I love an audience,” said Lake. “So this is great.”
The success of the image has further confirmed for Lake that her choice to pursue the arts was a good one.
It was a choice she first looked closely at after discovering the Mac (computer) lab at Van Tech Secondary School. Soon after, a commission she did for the Ignite Youth Festival further solidified her artistic choice.
“I was doing a photo shoot for a poster I designed and I remember thinking, ‘I’m having a lot of fun,’” said Lake. “Right now, that is all I want. Sure, that could change in 10 or 15 years, but right now I am enjoying being an artist.”
As for the often-tough road that creative types travel, Lake has a decidedly mature take on that:
“I’d rather be happy and poor than unhappy and rich.”
As it stands now, Judgments is online and prints can be made. As for the work’s future, Lake loves the idea of maybe making tights with the thought-provoking words on them.
And, for the record, you may notice when looking at the image that one of the words is spelled wrong.
“I know, I didn’t catch that when I first did it,” laughed Lake. “But for prints or other stuff I will fix it.”