Work > Reinas Del Azucar with Rosemarie Romero

Reinas Del Azucar is a collaborative series of photographs by Chicago artist Helen Maurene Cooper, known for her photographic tableaux and portraits of Chi-town's Nail Art Culture, and Miami Artist & Nail Tech Rosemarie Romero of Porn Nail$, known for her mobile nail salon installations, camp performances, and colorful nail designs.

With images of manicured hands against pastel backgrounds, featuring candy-themed nail art inspired by the flamboyant colors, swirls, and textures of sweets from Mexico, Latin America and the United States, Cooper and Romero draw parallels between dulces and lacquered nails. Azúcar!, Celia Cruz's most famous catchphrase inspired by her beloved cafecito, is both a battle cry for Latinx POC and the pursuit of pleasure. These colorful and bold nails celebrate and reclaim chusmeria- a derogatory term of 'being too loud, too sexual, too latinx, too queer,' as a model of resistance against conformity, machismo, cultural puritanism.

Reinas Del Azucar is a tribute to Nail Art as symbols of feminine excess, exotic-otherness, pleasure, and cultural exchange combined with the fierce attitude of those who wear it by embracing Miami Rococo Aesthetics and the embodiment of radical chusmeria.  The exhibit also highlights the deep friendships created by nail artists and their patrons. Both give and receive pleasure, and share their triumphs and darkest secrets. Nail art functions as an escape from the harsh realities of life. The role of the nail artist is to sweeten the world with sugar and heal psychic wounds. 

Accompanying the photographs is the installation of the Porn Nail$ Salon by artist Rosemarie Romero, which embodies the spirit of radical chusmeria. A Porn Nail$ Salon will be open for the duration of the exhibit. Porn Nail$ is a mobile queer-feminist nail salon that infiltrates public space with spectacles of latinx excess. Clients are provided with manicures and friendship in exchange for gossip about love, sex, and work. Employing camp performances and Miami kitsch aesthetics, Romero constructs humorous social encounters and cultural exchanges that critically celebrates latinx identity and sexuality, while exploring the aesthetic politics of gender, race, and class by wielding humor, nail polish, glitter, and flamboyant color. As an artist and licensed manicurist, she uses the healing powers of touch, beauty, laughter, and empathy as tools for human connection. Porn Nail$ is a political-aesthetic expression of radical chusmeria, as a model for pleasure, empowerment, and feminist resistance. 

Opening of Reinas Del Azucar
Friday, October 20, 2017 from 7 pm to 11pm

The evening will feature a special Porn Nail$ installation, where artist Rosemarie Romero will perform candy inspired nail art during the opening reception. 

Exhibit through November 19, 2017

Saloon Conversation on Miami Rococo Aesthetics
and Reinas Del Azucar with Artists Q&A
Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 4 pm to 6 pm