(This article was originally written for, and appeared on, Refinery29. You can read the original here.)
While the high-fashion industry might consider the gorgeous model Robyn Lawley to be plus-size, we view the 6’2” beauty more as a catalyst of a healthier-looking future for cat-walkers. So, when we heard Lawley was the focus of photographer Kenneth Willardt’s newest exhibit, aptly titled “Size Does Matter,” we couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. When we saw the promotional shot of Lawley, nude with her bits strategically covered by a colony of fluffy bunnies, we were more than intrigued.
Standing in 558 Gallery in Chelsea, surrounded by larger-than-life multimedia shots of Lawley snuggled with a menagerie of animals, we just had to pick Willardt’s mind to find out the impetus behind the images. “It started when Preston from V Files came to my office and said ‘You need to meet Robyn.’ She’s a big girl, a curvy girl, and I love curvy girls,” Willardt explains. “I met her and was like ‘Oh, wow,’ so we did the first picture with the bunnies (for a billboard on the West Side Highway), and it came out so well, so I just felt, what a great idea for a poster for a show; her naked, with bunnies, 150,000 cars driving by every day…”
Of course, we grilled Willardt on his decision to photograph Lawley in the buff. “There are two things I love, women and animals, so it was just a perfect combination,” he told us. “It wouldn’t interest me to have her clothes on. My personal work is nudity; I think it’s more honest. The nude body, that’s what really interests me, what captures me. It’s shown here in a different way, maybe make people look at things in a new, refreshed way.”
True to his word, Willardt offers the audience an innovative way to examine the artwork. As a play on the proliferation of smartphones, a 4D-viewer app was incorporated into the exhibit as an innovative way to view and interact with the images. Willardt saw how people were constantly staring down at their phones, not interacting with the world around them, and took the opportunity to catch their interest. By scanning the QR codes next to the images and then holding their phone in front of the pictures, one can see the images spring to life.
“I don’t know what plus-size means,” he laughs when we asked him about the label. “She’s 6’ 2”, and she’s a curvy girl, so [the industry] can take up that discussion with themselves. My images are not about plus-size or not plus-size, for me she’s a curvy girl and that’s what interests me.” When asked about the show’s title, “Size Does Matter,” WIllardt explained “Well, size does matter…in every way. However [size] matters to the viewer, that’s what’s important to them.”
The exhibition will be open through December 8, at 558 Gallery on West 21st Street, New York, NY.