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We're Chained, 2019

Jordan Yuan

Boston University

These pencil drawings depicting my close friends in intimate positions are part of an ongoing series about the beauty of humanity; they use diversity of body type and gender as well as shibari, an ancient Japanese form of rope bondage to address this subject. I was drawn to shibari and the idea of using rope as physically and psychologically controlling forms and wanted to emphasize the body’s involvement. I based the illustrations off photographs, which gave me agency over the composition, as I could modify the details. Through my work, I form deeply personal connections with my subjects. I was particularly connected to the models in these images because I was involved in binding, situating, and photographing them, activities that required strong mutual trust. Such bonds were further solidified in the many hours I spent referring to their photos after the shoot, examining every little detail as I translated the images into drawings. This process also gave me insight into the models’ identities and insecurities, which were most evident in the ways they positioned themselves relative to the camera, maintained or avoided eye contact, or requested that I omit body parts revealing their sex. After these stages, I created a portrait of their true selves, literally and visually binding the body with the drawing itself and producing a piece about submission and vulnerability.

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