Sam Read and other Ypsilanti High School students contributed to an art reception at Cultivate Coffee and Taphouse, March 3. Read also reflected on his work and how society has affected him.
Lynne Settles, an art teacher at Ypsilanti High School, gave her YCHS-ACTech class the task of creating art that would bring attention to social inequalities their choice. The topics ranged from illegal immigration, the sexualization of female characters in comic books, media bias, and mass incarceration.
“We had an expression project. They got a chance to write using art materials; crayons, pencils, markers, cut-out magazine pictures, and I just let them vent. Just let them write and do whatever it is they had to say, whatever it was they were feeling,” Settles said in a speech to the crowd.
The art was shown throughout Ypsilanti High to showcase the student's voices.
Student-artist, Sam Read, 17, wants to be a tattoo artist. His skill in art was evident from a picture he drew of a superhero displayed on the wall. The superhero wasn’t what you might expect. The feet to the neck of the figure showed an overly sexualized female body, only to have a man’s head in an astronaut helmet.
“The general theme for it was I wanted to bring to light the sexualization and objectification of women identifying people in sci fi and anime and video games, and stuff like that, so I wanted to put a cis man or male-identifying person in the same exact light,” Read said.
Even the personalities of female characters are often overly sexualized, Especially with female villains.
“Villains that are women are seen as taunting and they lure men to their deaths or whatever. That’s how it’s been for, actually a really long time,” Read said.
Read has also been a part of many community groups such as The Mural Project, Festifools, Art Prize, and helped with a Frederick Douglass installation. Read will also be working on an underground railroad mural, and a mural with Growing Hope.
Read went on to say the recent orders under the Trump administration have taken a toll on him and his friends.
“The day after the election I actually talked a few of my friends out of suicide which was really tough to do because I was really messed up that night and I was terrified and I was crying my eyes out and then I had to be emotional support for my friends,” Read said.
Sam Read is currently working on a few web comics that challenge comic book norms for female characters.