Daphne Hill - of Sex, STD's and a PSA

I feel pretty proud of the little cowpoke town we call San Diego.  In the past decade, we’ve managed to cultivate quite a respectable art scene.  Galleries and artist studios alike have popped up in  the various neighborhoods surrounding downtown. D’Scoop had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with one of San Diego’s awesome artists, Daphne Hill, to talk about sexual inspiration, STDs and her upcoming show, Member’s Only.  


D’ScoopSo Daphne. In my very sultry dating game voice …  tell us a little bit about yourself.  And please, leave in all of the juicy details or I may have to add them in myself.

Daphne – Well Brandon (as I flirt with the camera), my friend and painting partner, Anna Stump, and I have very similar profiles in many ways.  We’re both divorced mothers, we both teach, and we both have very naughty senses of humor.  We have our business, Naughty Blonde Redux where we make one of a kind buckles, costume jewelry and other naughty bits. 

Perhaps our most original creation is our cock-ring for girls.  We hand paint a tiny little rooster, set him in a ring with a sparkly background and seal that sweet little sucker in resin forever.  Boom!  A cock-ring you can comfortably wear all day and in plain view. 

We are also professional artists and show our work extensively.  In addition to our collaborative paintings currently on display at Ray Street Custom Framing in North Park (3807 Ray Street), we are preparing work for an upcoming show about male genetalia “Members Only”.  There are four artists participating in the show (Prudence Horne, Heidi Galeria, Anna Stump and myself).  The show opens February 23rd and is not to be missed – Lots of Penis everywhere!

D’ScoopNow that’s quite a mouthful (Pun intended!).  I think that over the years that I’ve known you, my favorite of your pieces are the Sexually Transmitted Diseases.  I have to ask where these came about.  Hopefully not from experience.

Daphne – Good one!  Those little STD pieces were inspired by the sex talk I had years ago with my son who was 11 at the time.  I had been thinking about these antique silhouettes that my parents had given me.  They were very sentimental pieces – romantic couples in front of a mountain range or cherry blossoms.  I loved the look and knew I wanted to paint something similar but I wanted to give them more edge.

Trading Syphilis & Gonorrhea.jpg

 Interestingly enough, it was actually a conversation with Ann that made me think about sex in the first place.  She stopped by to see my work during an open studio night and was telling me about some little erotic pieces she was making.  I  thought of the silhouettes, making the pieces more sexual and less sentimental.  When my son asked for the sex talk, I went on and on about how important it was to always wear a condom to prevent STDs.  That was it – silhouettes, sex, microscopic STDs.  That in 2007 and I’ve been making them ever since. 

I could say that the series is absolutely not based on personal experience but let’s  be honest – damn near everyone has had at least one STD in their life.  80% of sexually active people have had HPV (the virus that can cause genital warts, cervical and penile cancers) at some point, whether they knew it or now.

D’ScoopI didn’t know I was going to get a PSA…Ha! Which makes me want to ask – when showing the various glossy resin pieces, do you notice people gravitating toward one or the other and then wonder?

Daphne – With the VD/STD pieces, I think people are attracted to the color, the figures in the foreground, and the slick surface.  I wanted to make them really seductive, to draw a crowd before they realize there is Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Syphilis lurking in the background.  I haven’t noticed them favoring one disease over another, although people sometimes ask my why I don’t make more pieces with HIV.  That was a tough one because most of the diseases I paint are curable (that’s why I paint a lot of penicillin, too) or in the case of Herpes, a nuisance you can learn to live with.

HIV is a touchier subject.  We all know or knew someone who has been affected by HIV.  It’s quite a bit more serious than a case of the crabs, you know?!  Still, with all of the research and the vaccine being developed, I may work with that virus more in the near future.  Like all of the viral and bacterial infections I paint, HIV is absolutely beautiful under a microscope.  It is somehow comforting for me to take a more clinical perspective on something that has caused so much pain and suffering, isolate it between layers or resin and just dress it up with lots of color, gloss and the sexual chemistry of the silhouetted lovers.

March 1951 Syphilis Gonorrhea.jpg

D’ScoopAs for the Member’s Only show, I’m all for lots of peni but the first thing I think of when I hear the term is Rosario from Will and Grace (Yes, I’m that gay).  Spill the beans on the title (and the show!)

Daphne - The Members Only show came about after Prudence, Anna and I saw an exhibition of work by Ryan McGinnes at Quint Gallery in La Jolla. That show really rubbed us the wrong way. We felt that Ryan's representations of women were wildly sexist, and we are all completely OK with the figure in work. We are not by any means an inhibited group of women. We also started getting worked up about the disproportionate number of male artists exhibited in galleries and museums as compared to female artists. Then we were just like, "Fuck it, let's just put together a show about dicks." The title, "Members Only", refers to the boys' club art scene (here in San Diego and pretty much everywhere), as well as the male member. By my estimation, there will be somewhere around 120-125 penises, penes, peni, dicks...call them what you will, they will be all over the walls. This gallery will be the most well hung gallery in San Diego - possibly the WORLD. It's really not to be missed.

Well I should probably let Daphne get back to sniffing resin fumes in her studio.

And seriously, if you’re in or around San Diego this February get your asses over to the Kettner Arts Building for Member’s Only.

Size Queens Welcome.

Member's Only
The Kettner Art Building, Studio 214
2400 Kettner Blvd., San Diego 92101

Images courtesy Daphne Hill