Blood, censorship and a man’s inner thighs

Robert Sherer is known around the world for his provocative artwork, including a series called “Blood Works” that incorporated HIV-positive and HIV-negative blood into botanical illustrations.

Exhibits of his male nude drawings have been censored four times, but in 2007 he won the Lorenzo de Medici medal for his homoerotic wood-burnings. He is an art professor at Kennesaw State University and is working to endow a scholarship for out LGBT students.

Sherer and his partner, William Cash, are now featured in the book “100 Artists of the Male Figure” by E. Gibbons. Cash and Sherer appear at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse on April 21 to sign copies of the book.


Book launch of E. Gibbons’
‘100 Artists of the Male Figure’

Thursday, April 21, 7-9 p.m.
Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse
991 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta, GA 30309

GA Voice: Do you have a favorite part of the male anatomy and why?

Robert Sherer: In recent years I have developed a taste for L’intérieur de la Cuisse [the inside of the thigh]. I find it to be the perfect afternoon snack.

What does it mean to you to collaborate with your partner and be featured in this new book?

Actually, William and I do not collaborate with each other in the truest sense of the word — we inspire and drive each other but artistically we are two very different beasts. The book presents a global sampling of the finest living male figure artists — we are very excited to be amongst them.

What’s the best part about teaching? What’s the worst?

The best part of teaching: those moments when I have qualitative evidence that I have positively impacted the lives of my students. The worst part is witnessing my brilliant LGBT students being disowned by their families, thus preventing them from completing their education and realizing their dreams. I have only two enemies: ignorance and stupidity.  Teaching is where I do battle with both of them.

Why did you decide to use actual blood in your “Blood Works” series? What is the message you intended with these works? How did you get the blood?

The “Blood Works” series resulted from an accident with a razor blade. I suddenly found myself with a jar of my blood and decided to experiment with it. Very quickly I realized that blood is the perfect medium for addressing issues of race, tribe, family, gender, sexuality, privilege, etc. I now bleed a wide range of volunteers for my pictures.

What’s a typical weekend like for you and William?

Quality time: not getting out of bed until whenever; our work at “Petite Versailles”: our backyard garden; a great dinner and then studio in the evening. We tend to avoid tedious social events and people — we don’t feel the need to social climb.

How did it feel to be censored for your work? Angry? Or did you feel, “Well, I’m in good company”?

I felt anger, hurt, threatened, self-censorious, and defeated. It is a terrible offense to demonize someone’s art, their deeply felt expressions of their life story. Even now, when I pick up a paintbrush I hear those voices telling me that it is not OK to explore the gay aesthetic. Because they see you in the press, people think it is glamorous to be a censored artist, but they don’t realize that you are in very real legal trouble.

Who is your favorite artist?

I have my favorites in almost every style, genre and medium. There is, of course, the guy who dug up my backyard…

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Since Judeo-Christian programming didn’t have a profound impact on my life I find no relationship between guilt and pleasure. Nevertheless, I should probably consider my consumption of Crème Brûlée.


Top photo: Robert Sherer’s artwork is included in the new book, ‘100 Artists of the Male Figure.’ (courtesy photo)