Uncensored: Aton Ibe Crawley
In his one bedroom Crown Heights apartment, Aton sits surrounded by his artwork. He lays it all out around him like a shrine and smiles proudly. Of course, office jumped at the opportunity to get inside the brain of an artist dedicated to rendering his vision.
So when was the first time you ever drew a penis?
[We laugh Beavis and Butt-Head style] Uhhh I don’t know. Like second grade? I made a comic book in like the third grade, it was called Starballs. I got suspended for it.
What was Starballs about?
It was about if Darth Vader had boobs. He was transgender, and yeah, it was something about balls. I dont know if Vader was getting or getting rid of his balls, but yeah…
Uhhhh where can I get a copy? Do you ever feel weird about posting sexual work on instagram?
Yeah cause people think I’m a perv. And that just more so classifies myself when I do that. Even though it's in some ways accepted. It’s also very boxy. People automatically group you around certain things and activities when you post stuff like that.
They just see a sexual act and automatically think you’re some kind of wierdo?
Maybe not wierdo and maybe not automatically, but the consistency and the abundance shapes people's views.
Does it ever piss you off?
How have you come to deal with that?
Have you stopped posting certain work?
Yeah, mostly cause I don’t like being put in such strong categories.
Why do you think people’s tendencies are to just categorize people like that?
Because there’s a standard way of viewing things, that society tells you is the standard. And below or above that is when things get wobbled. I feel like there’s a level of hypocrisy in that. Cause everybody fucks.
So why is it a problem once it's put into art?
Cause it’s one of those things that’s just a closed door thing. Like cursing. Everyone curses but you hear, “Oh don’t curse around kids,” or, “Don’t curse in this environment or around these people of this age above or below." It's a weak argument.
So the art world is full of children? And you need to filter your stuff to not offend?
But then again, to offend is what grabs the attention and what pushes down barriers. I don’t care if it's offensive. I would rather people just think about it than get offended, though. I would rather people just think. And conceptualize it in some sort of way. Because that's what I'm doing. I'm conceptualizing the act of sex. The physical act of intimacy and trying to understand it in terms of myself and for myself. And that creates meaning for me. So I guess what I want is for people to do the same. But it’s not always recieived.
What drove you to that? You said you want to understand the act by conceptualizing it.
Most of my art is about understanding my life or what I'm into or what I’m thinking about.
Cause most people are into sex but not most people are into visualizing it like this.
Cause most people don’t want to understand it. People don’t want to eat a girl out but they still wanna fuck. I was one of those people. But like the more you are a sexual person, the more you are an openly sexual person and the more you connect with people in terms of your sex with them or your connection intimately. Then the more you are open to the various realms and possibilities of it and of it being more than just something physical.
Not everyone has the physical ability that you do to render these drawing in this way. Can you still achieve that understanding of sex through other mediums? Is there anything different about visual rendering as compared to say writing?
Yea, write about it, hear stories. There’s no difference. It’s just stronger cause visuals are so direct.
And what’s your goal with this art? Sell it? Hoard it away? A show? A book?
I don’t have a goal for the art. But I have goals for what I create. So yeah, I want to have a show. I already have books that are ready to go. It’s just all about producing.
Can you tell us a little about the books you want to produce?
There are a couple actually. There's actually like 12 or 13. There’s a six part series that I finished. It's a visual story about my first three years living in New York. The places, the people, the parties, the feelings. The wild nights. Good times! Then there’s one called “sex.u.al” and I want that to be about exploring the idea of sex not as a physical action or thing to do but more as a connected tool. Individual sexuality. People are sexually in themselves. Viewing the movement of bodies. How the fluidness of bodies can tell tales. Like you know when someone is being sexual because of the way that they move? You don’t have to say a word.
If someone called you an erotic artist, would that be boxing you in?
I’m a fine artist. There’s a level of eroticism that I put forth. But it’s mostly a study of.
Like Robert Mapple Thorpe?
I don’t know who that is.
Shit I better stop the tape then.