By Joe Myrick
Special to The Review
The word “coven” is used to describe a community of witches taking part in, well, witch activities.
Like “Fire burn and cauldron bubble” — you know the spiel.
On a recent Saturday morning in Hamtramck at the KO Gallery, the only cauldron “bubbling” was that of three certain artists, preparing to hold their figure drawing event later in the day.
These three artists comprise the Coven of Roses: Sierra, Amber, and Callie. Prior to the event, this trio had the chance to sit down with The Review to discuss their artistic escapades.
Their initial meeting was simple: Sierra met Amber online; Sierra met Callie through Amber; and Amber met Callie through Instagram. T’was a regular Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon if there ever was one, and thus was this coven born.
Amber’s girlfriend helped the trio come up with their new name, as previously they and their friends had addressed themselves as “Easy Bake Coven.”
In Sierra’s own words, they are a “group of artists trying to provide for other artists.”
Amber then further explained that they want “to provide other artists in the community with low cost things that they can learn from.”
Since May, the Coven of Roses have held figure drawing classes, with August marking their fourth such event (their fifth will come at the end of September – more about that in a minute). These figure drawing events showcase models who have volunteered to appear either nude, or semi-nude, for an audience to sketch them at the KO Gallery.
These events are free to the public, although a $5 donation is always appreciated, and will help finance future shows or even generate potential sponsorships.
Callie explains that their intention, with these events, is to give aspiring artists opportunities that they may not be able to find elsewhere.
“If you’re not in school, you don’t really get the opportunity to draw from nude or semi-nude models,” she said. “We basically wanted to provide the tools and the skills they can use to better themselves.”
Furthermore, their goal is to provide an uncensored space where bodies of all genders, colors, shapes and sizes can be both seen and validated.
Amber, an abstract pastel painter outside of Coven, said their mission is to “Highlight the importance of bodily autonomy and acceptance of the way people look no matter how thin, fat, deformed, old, or young (they may be). We want to make a space safe for everybody, and that’s a part of our mission as well.”
Sierra, whose artwork outside of Coven tends to focus on identity and women of color, said the get-togethers are also a way to battle censorship.
“I feel like there’s a war on women’s bodies, especially women of color, and I think that there shouldn’t be a censorship on what’s natural,” she said.
“It stunts artistry that there’s that censorship there, and I think it should be gone. That’s why Coven of Roses is so important to me. It’s because we’re fighting that through giving people a sensibility. We’re also giving people the opportunity to comfortably present themselves to the world, and to allow themselves to be drawn.”
Trying to spread the word on social media, the group has also run into censorship issues. Social media platforms, for example Instagram, have deleted their posts (specifically, those of plus-sized women).
Callie said a way to counter this obstruction is to put a greater focus on “body neutrality,” which she defines as “not being terrified of (nude body images) and feeling like you need to cover them up, or feeling offended if you see different body types.”
Amber put it more bluntly: “Just mind your business. It’s not that big of a deal. If you see something you don’t like, then look away.”
You can join the Coven of Roses’ figure drawing sessions at the KO Gallery (9536 Jos. Campau) on the last Saturday of every month. This month, September 28, the session will run from 4 pm to 6 pm.
You can also track the trio’s journey on both Facebook and Instagram @CovenofRoses. You can also find them, and their work, individually on Instagram: @translucentfeels (Sierra), @Pastel_pwussy (Amber) and @Nazzpuller (Callie).
Contact them if you’re interested to volunteer as a model for their next event.
Sept. 20, 2019