Auxilio Lacouture is the pseudonym of a Milwaukee-raised and schooled artist currently living in Austin, Texas. She originally got her start studying photography at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design but, thanks to a diverse foundational study, has kicked out the corners of her artistic capabilities.
"While my education was meaningful to me," she states, "self-education has probably been more meaningful and more relevant."
Lacouture’s newest endeavor is her Shapeshifter Collection, named for the numerous options of form in her wearable contour drawings and typography made of hammered gold. Lacouture expects her creations will come to represent her personal history over time.
Maybe more obviously though, this jewelry contains themes that are not typically seen or talked about in open society; the sculpted swear words and genitals are shocking, crass and vulgar.
But Lacouture begs to differ.
"That’s just it – sexuality is not crass, nor are vulgarity and bad words," she notes. "In the same way that Ebonics is a creative, inventive language involving word play and style, my concepts play with misconceptions and contradictions of sex, thought and fashion.
"I love the dicks so much for a number of reasons. Firstly because Andy Warhol was openly gay when several male contemporaries remained in the closet for fear of discrimination. Secondly, we also see a lot of dick mockery visualized in pop culture – funny scribbles in toilet stalls or dicks used as straws for bachelorettes – but as a feminist – simply, a human seeking equality between the sexes – I wanted to articulate the same beauty and respect I have for men that I often don’t feel reciprocated. To some extent, I’d like to be exemplary of what I expect."
And so, the little, humorous and offensive contour drawing holds a lot of depth. "Warhol No.1" is more than a silly penis.
"It’s about evolving the conversation, challenging the preconceptions and being prepared to answer questions," she says. "As a parent to a little girl, because I’m toting dick earrings and naughty words, I have to be prepared to talk about it.
"Andy, before fame, was the recipient of good parenting and who – in the face of so much rejection, loneliness and unrequited love because of he was different, shy and gay – pressed on. No doubt, his mom was a huge part of who he was to become, because of her constant support. So they are not so much about one thing singularly, but enfolded within is a dialogue about art, history, human relationships, sexuality, family and art again.
"That being said, there’s a lot of humor involved, too. When you talk about the parts that we hide and the reasons we do, you’ve got to drop a few jokes to make everyone feel comfortable with a stereotypically uncomfortable subject."
Vugarity and crassness can also indicate a higher level of honesty.
"‘Vulgarity No.1’ is really about honesty and deception. If you follow the link, you’ll come to an article about a study that found foul-mouthed people more honest. Politicians are often the most politically correct, using decisive, strategic speech. The study found vulgar speech to be more upfront and honest. Now, that doesn’t make a foul-mouthed person more politically correct, but it may make them more authentically themselves and you may not be left wondering what lies beneath or how much."
And how do people react to seeing such honesty on display?
"I wear my designs all the time," she notes. "Most reactions are visceral and usually very positive. Someone bought ‘After Warhol No.1’ right off my head on Saturday last."
The Shapeshifter Collection is not entirely comprised of naughty words and naughty bits. As the name indicates, themes will move and develop over time and include personal thoughts, experiences, calls for justice and more, "like memorializing ideas that I dig, like self-realization, as in ‘Laura’s Sailboat’."
You can peruse Lacouture’s gallery and make purchases at Lessons for Mutants.
"If you find something you like, please consider ordering for your lover, sister, mother or another strong woman you do not fail to admire for her undeniable badass-ery," says Lacouture. "And expect a quick turn around and sexy packaging."
Jason McDowell grew up in central Iowa and moved to Milwaukee in 2000 to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
In 2006 he began working with OnMilwaukee as an advertising designer, but has since taken on a variety of rolls as the Creative Director, tackling all kinds of design problems, from digital to print, advertising to branding, icons to programming.
In 2016 he picked up the 414 Digital Star of the Year award.
Most other times he can be found racing bicycles, playing board games, or petting dogs.