Kuebeck visits Edinboro, shares love for beefcake photography

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 at 2:15 PM
Kuebeck visits Edinboro, shares love for beefcake photography by Zaida Pring
Photo: Pexels.com

On Oct. 15, artist Andrew Kuebeck came to talk to Edinboro students about his career and to shed a fresh perspective on the politics behind the male body. Kuebeck is currently the Jewelry, Metals, and Enameling Department Chair at the Kent State University School of Arts. 

Kuebeck spoke on the inspiration behind his artwork: the male figure, and spoke on the importance of the politics behind the male nude especially in art. During his lecture, Kuebeck spoke on his current work, as well as his work during his time in undergraduate and graduate school. 

Kuebeck prefaced his lecture by stating: “Some things I really saw starting to emerge throughout all of the work that I’ve made is this idea of the importance of narrative, the importance of objects and identity, then also the history and politics of the male body: specifically, the male nude.”  

Much of his work during undergraduate school was focused on what he calls ‘personal narratives.’ Kuebeck began experimenting more with enameling as well as photography, which he later goes on to explain as key parts of his current artistic technique.  

Kuebeck explained that his work in undergraduate was largely influenced by things he witnessed and experienced in his childhood. He described a sculpture he created of milk boxes being separated from boxes of Life cereal by barbed wire, noting how when he was a child, he was certain that the best way to protect himself from anyone trying to kidnap him would be to wrap himself in barbed wire.  

He also spoke on some of his other sculpture inventions he created over the years, including a clamshell-shaped necklace filled with grass seed he would wear in the shower, in the hopes that it would give a chest hair-like appearance. This guided him into his talk on his interest in male and masculine art. 

As an artist, Kuebeck draws much of his inspiration from something called Beefcake Photography, an older style of artwork which features glamour-style nude photographs of men, typically doing things that fall on the more traditionally masculine side. Common examples of this included chopping wood or fishing.  

Kuebeck also discussed how he was inspired by the case of Manual Enterprises v. Day, a landmark Supreme Court case that ruled that magazines consisting of nude or near nude male models was not obscene and were legally allowed to be put in U.S. mail. This ruling inspired Kuebeck’s thesis piece he did in graduate school. 

The main frame of Kuebeck’s work both in college and as an artist is enameling and metalsmithing with a focus on the male nude. Kuebeck takes Beefcake Photography style photographs himself, turns them into a silhouette and then turns those silhouettes into metal figurines which he then shapes into various triangular forms.  

He showed audiences some of the artwork from his solo exhibition “MANual Labor.” This title not only draws on his focus on the male nude, but also draws inspiration from the company Manual Enterprises, which headed the Manual Enterprises v. Day supreme court ruling, ultimately bankrupting themselves in the process. Kuebeck uses the title of his exhibition as a homage to the company that paved the way for his work with the male nude.  

Kuebeck concluded his lecture by taking audience questions about his techniques, influences and inspirations. He encouraged artists to find their narrative and answered a few more questions about Beefcake Photography.  

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