Artist Erika Iris Simmons, also known as iri5, makes incredible portraits from archaic VHS and audio cassettes! Inspired by the music that the tapes once contained, the artist spins the shiny black coils into fine brush strokes, outlining some of her favorite musicians and film stars in gorgeous portraits. Icons like Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Jerry Garcia are immortalized in the very medium that helped share their music before mp3s and online streaming became the listening methods of choice.
Simmons is an Atlanta based self-taught artist who looks to discarded and found objects for inspiration. Her gorgeous cassette and VHS tape portraits fuse meaning with medium. Each piece depicts one of music’s most inspirational legends that have gone on to influence generations to come. More importantly, their eyes, lips and hair are “drawn” with the glistening fragile tapes of yesteryear. The portraits form a relationship with their material, as music fans during the height of each star likely listened to their tunes on cassettes like these.
Now obsolete, the cassettes are appropriately upcycled into memorable art works. The hem of Lenny Kravtiz’ shirt zig zags out of the top of a cassette, its lines joining together to form the singer’s sunglasses and curly hair. Film reels become shadow profiles of Audrey Hepburn in her Breakfast at Tiffany’s days, and Alfred Hitchcock’s recognizable pout emerges from a spool of celluloid.
The ribbons that once bore music and movies are transformed into hair, lips and bodies, all still connected to their respective cassette casing, giving viewers a nostalgic memory of the now obsolete listening devices of their childhoods.