“Gods and Monsters” comes to French Pharmacie

Photography by Willyum Baulkey

The average person knows at least a little bit about Greek and Roman mythology, and can probably name a few well known gods or goddesses that they studied in high school. But how much do you know about African, Norse or Japanese mythologies, to name a few? There’s a whole class of gods and monsters with unique stories that didn’t make it into the history books of mainstream society. This weekend, photographer Willyum Baulkey, makeup artist Danelle French, and hairstylist Sebastian Dejong are bringing them into the spotlight, or rather, in front of the camera.

The photography show, “Gods and Monsters” is centered around these diverse mythologies and will take place on Oct. 5 from 7-10pm at the French Pharmacie Salon on Westfield Blvd. The show is free and open to the pubic and features 12 photos, each with a different model representing a different character from mythology. There will also be prints and calendars for sale that include extra photos, as well as drinks and snacks.

Baulkey emphasizes that the evening will be a cultural learning experience, in addition to an art exhibit.

“It was interesting for all of us to learn about all of the different stories I didn’t know anything about,” he said. “So not only was it an art experience, you also get to learn something. And I hope people enjoy that when they come.”

Makeup artist Danelle French came up with the idea of making the show mythology themed, since she has long been interested in mythology and knows there are many stories from around the world that are little known.

This is the third show that Baulkey and French have done together; the other two were “Celestial Bodies” about zodiac signs, and “Playlist” which was inspired by song titles. Baulkey says each show has become more “fun and playful” and this year’s show, which will be their last for at least a while, will hopefully be their best.

“Gods and Monsters” also features something that the other two projects haven’t done before: a five minute movie of each model interpreting their mythological character. The movie will play at 8:30pm, so Baulkey encourages people to arrive to the show by then.

“It’s one thing to see the models in still photos, but it’s another thing to see the models moving and acting and being their characters,” Baulkey said. “It kind of brings you there yourself. It was a really cool thing to watch.”

And while models delved into their individual characters, Baulkey, French and Dejong were also researching, collaborating with designers, and meticulously planning their shoots to help the gods and monsters come to life.

“One that I was most excited about was Medusa, that was the biggest challenge for me,” Dejong said.

“That one was very close up so I had to have more attention to detail when it comes to the hair. You don’t know how the final pictures will look when you’re planning it, but I think they all came out really well.”

French said the project offered lots of opportunities to collaborate with local artists, from models to designers, and that she especially enjoyed collaborating on a look for Anance, an African god with many limbs.

“Anance is one of my favorite characters from mythology, and we actually got to use some beautifully printed wraps from a local designer, and they ended up working perfectly,” she said.

The diversity of photos and characters allowed for each member of the team to stretch themselves creatively. Some photos were focused more on makeup, some on hair, some on styling. As Baulkey said, “Every photo is different.”

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