Art show at Folk on the Rocks confronts body image

Yellowknife’s mobile art gallery will make an appearance at Folk on the Rocks this weekend, featuring shows from three artists over three days.

First up on Friday night: a wall-to-wall display of boobs.

Chest Intentions is the creation of Yellowknife resident Jessica Davey-Quantick. It builds on a piece she displayed at 2018’s Social Fabric art show, hosted by the Yellowknife Artist-Run Community Centre in the city’s Centre Square Mall.


The exhibit features artistic interpretations of 30 different chests. Each is based on a photograph either sent to Davey-Quantick or taken during a photo shoot on her back porch.

“I have male chests, and non-binary chests, and female chests,” Davey-Quantick told Mornings at the Cabin on Tuesday. “I have different fabric art. Some are cross-stitched, some are ribbons, and some are embroidered pasties that I have affixed to them.”

The show is meant to demystify bodies and challenge the way society thinks about body image, Davey-Quantick said.

“It’s an exploration of how you would feel about your body if no one told you how to feel about your body,” she said.

“How does a viewer determine what we think of the body? When you look at a chest, do you think that a fat body is more inappropriate, or do you think it’s less sexual because we don’t sexualize big bodies, or do we fetishize it? When you look at a male chest, why do we feel differently about that?”


While working on the show, Davey-Quantick said she noticed how many people experienced insecurities when it came to their bodies.

“Nobody thinks their bodies are OK,” she said.

Guidelines on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok muddy the waters even further, Davey-Quantick added, as user guidelines often discriminate against certain people and body types.

“Facebook and Instagram … are very into policing nipples, but specifically female nipples,” she said.


“TikTok is recently having an issue because bigger creators … are having things taken down for nudity violations when they’re just in a swimsuit, whereas skinny creators can do whatever they want.”

Moreover, ideas about body image change over time. What may seem “in fashion” in one decade could be looked down upon a few years later.

In an artist statement, Davey-Quantick wrote: “Bodies are complicated. They are personal but also public, private but always visible. The context and time and space they occupy dictate how they’re understood and perceived.

“Our definition of what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ chest is shaped not by the hills and valleys of the chest in question but by the viewer’s own positionality. What do they, and the culture around them, think?”

Chest Intentions will be on display in the Art Gallery of the NWT trailer at the Folk on the Rocks site on Friday evening. Saturday will feature work by artists Darrell Chocolate and Trey Madsen, while Sunday will focus on work by Su Naï Ra and Ashley Daw.

Davey-Quantick’s exhibit will be back in the trailer in the fall.

“I’m really hoping people look at it and want to be part of it,” she said. “How many boobs can we get in that trailer?”

Jesse Wheeler and Scott Letkeman contributed reporting.