The Ringling Museum of Art continues its millennial-focused Ringling Underground series this Thursday, inviting all comers (but particularly the younger community) out to the Ringling Courtyard for an evening of art, music and cultural camaraderie and a one-night presentation of Action in the Manicure: Works by Nail Pop LLC & Porn Nails. Stationed among the statues and greenery and under the shadow of David, conceptual nail artists Rosemarie Romero of Porn Nail$ Salon and Erin Hart of Nail Pop LLC transform the grounds for a socially-conscious art installation celebrating female empowerment and hyper-feminine aesthetic. Romero took a moment with SRQ to explain her approach.
Far from the subdued greys and greens of the Ringling Courtyard on a typical day, visitors to the Porn Nail$ Salon will be instantly bombarded by Romero’s aesthetic, from the purposefully kitschy and candy-colored mobile nail salon bedecked in pink sequins to the ostentatious flower arrangements, Santeria candles and flocks of pink flamingoes. Adopting the character of the classically flamboyant and chatty nail tech—complete with purple wig—Romero greets each visitor and welcomes them to the salon, where they can get anything from a simple manicure to one of her more extravagant adornments. The price? A meaningful conversation on love, sex, work or dreams—peppered with juicy gossip.
But it’s not just for show or a good laugh, though it’s certainly supposed to be an enjoyable time, but rather an effort to bridge divides. “I use Porn Nail$ as an opportunity to create meaningful social encounters & cultural exchanges by transporting this Hyper-kitsch, colorful experience to different/ unconventional situations, social contexts, and diverse audiences,” says Romero. “Porn Nail$ is usually situated in a place of chaos, and allows visitors a safe space of relaxation, conversation, friendship, and intimacy. Instantly, guests share personal stories about their lives, and express their fears, hopes and aspirations as they receive their colorful manicure. As a nail technician, I function like a psychoanalyst while the patron free-associates and work through topics and feelings on their minds.” And though they begin as strangers, the physical connection built by constant casual touch involved in a manicure creates an intimacy, even if just for a moment.
And while Porn Nail$ is overtly an exercise in female empowerment (“It allows them a space that celebrates female pleasure, creative self-expression, and self-reflection through camp-humor and bright colors.”), the message is actually much broader. “Porn Nail$ is an empowering exercise for women, cis-men, and LGBTQI community in that it promotes the message of love, empathy, friendship, and the celebration of diversity,” says Romero. “What I want people to take away from my art now more than ever is the importance of connection, empathy and understanding of ‘the other.’”
Ringling Underground and Action in the Manicure: Works by Nail Pop LLC & Porn Nail$ is this Thursday, March 2, from 8pm to 11pm.