Metal Chastity Couture

Sherman's "Hardcore Chastity Couture" might also be called "Contemplative Couture" or "Philosophical Fashions."
Ultimately his irresistibly seductive art is an enticement to think more deeply and heavily about how we treat on another
-Suzanne Ramljak, art historian, writer, curator at the American Federation of Arts

Chastity belts first came into my purview while creating my series "Panaceas for Persistent Problems." Though “Wrath of Persephone” was a small sculpture of a chastity belt, it seemed to take center stage in every exhibition where it appeared. It sent me down the path of researching chastity belts (which never really existed outside of romance novels) and opened the door for conversations with many women and men who had suffered violent attacks. The idea grew and morphed over the years into the show that is detailed in this catalog. Pieces like "Wrath of Persephone" took on a sinister, violent design that can literally shoot darts at an attacker. "The Snare" goes a step further and maims the attacker, while "The Injector" permanently tattoos the attacker thus labeling him as a rapist. But over time, the idea of forgiveness took hold. Because it is true: hating your enemy is like taking poison and hoping someone else dies. Soon emerged "E. Detox" complete with bronze kidneys, the organ that detoxifies the body, that open to reveal butterflies held within. From there "Heartfelt" came into being. Pneumatic valves open and close a bejeweled heart and the ruby covering that also opens signifying the ability to accept love again. The final piece, "The Hope," is perhaps the most personal. It represents what I consider the greatest hope in this life: the birth of a child. It is meant to protect and adorn the mother and her baby, which is revealed as the sculpture breathes and responds to the joy of new life.

-Ira Sherman, February 2023

Chastity has been an integral part of human sexuality. Since ancient times the tension between natural desires and the demands of religious beliefs that focus on virgin values and both have shaped human attitudes toward sexual expression and human experience. Chastity, whether imposed as a demonstration of power and control or as a voluntary discipline, immediately conjures a moral paradox.

"Grab 'em by the pussy....You can do anything."...Donald Trump

Rape culture normalizes misogyny and entitlement to women's bodies, allowing uninvited forced kisses, gropes, and genital grabs. Inspired by these recent highly publicized presidential revelations, sculptor and fashion designer Ira Sherman have created haute couture Fashion concepts that seriously deter uninvited sexual aggression. Sherman's fashions meld traditional industrial materials into exquisite wearable sculptures that confront the complex issues related to sexual objectification, rape, and freedom of expression in our hypersexuality culture. Sherman explores the boundaries of these phenomena melding traditional industrial materials into elegant, armored fashions with his new collections of steel Chastity Couture. Featured in runway events in Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco, Sherman's wearable sculptures objectify the wearer while also empowering and protecting them from unwanted sexual advances. The result is spectacular and confounding and illuminates the duality of our culture's hypersexuality media and western puritanical values.

"Flame Thrower"
"Venetian Mask 1"
"Venetian Mask Yoke"
"Mayfly Corset"
"Scorpio M-1"
"Scorpio F-1"
"Chaperone 1"
"Chaperone 2"
"Funnel Corset"
"The Orchid"
"Headdress M-1"
"Headdress F-1"
"Chastity Back-Wing Corset"
"Chastity Chain Corset"
"E. Detox"
"The Hope"

Impenetrable Devices

An Exhibition of Mechanized Anti-Rape Devices

Over the centuries, inventors have designed and built many amazing, bizarre, and menacing devices designed to fend off sexual assault. Many of these devices were as primitive as the medieval chastity belt, while recently invented anti-rape tampons contain embedded DNA sampling microprocessors or internal hooks designed to snare rapists. The early artistic embellishments of medieval devices gave way to the pragmatic and ergonomic designs of the 21st century.

Artist Ira Sherman has applied his "mechanized prosthesis" aesthetic from his past sculptures into a new exhibition of fantastic mechanisms he has titled "Impenetrable Devices." This small touring exhibition of 16 wildly imaginative stainless steel prostheses has been designed to protect and defend women's and men's most vulnerable and tender anatomy. The artist has applied an exquisite mechanized aesthetic to address the delicate emotions of anger and pain resulting from sexual assault. Sherman drew inspiration for his new exhibition from interviews he conducted with one male and four female rape victims. I asked, "What messages would you like me to convey in the sculptures I plan to create?" Each victim gave me a list of ideas they would like me to express. Sherman's sculptures are beautiful, medically graphic, anatomically correct, intimately worn, stainless steel prostheses that effectively stop any intruder but in no way are limited by considerations of practicality. His sculpture titled "The Injector" uses two pneumatically energized hypodermic syringes to inject tattoo dye and powerful sedatives into a rapist, simultaneously dropping the criminal in his tracks and enabling positive identification. Another wearable Sherman sculpture uses a form-fitted battery-powered video surveillance device to "monitor" and document a possible attack. Sherman's sculptures create a wonderful confusion for those who give his work careful this art, or is this for real?

"Cremasteric Reflex Corset"
"Intimate Electric Fence"
"Flipper Cam"
"Male Anti-Rape Device #2"
"The Injector"
"The Snare"
"Wrath Of Persephone” (Pneumatic Anti-Rape Device)"
"She Had A Good Time, He Did Not"
"She Had A Good Time, He Did Not Steampunk Style”
"Bear Trap Corset"

Conceptual Sculptural Machines

World-renowned artist and metalsmith Ira Sherman's works are conceptual sculptural machines molded to the human form that regulate and prevent aggressive, sexual, and antisocial behaviors. The technical and visual artistry of Sherman's sexually graphic couture becomes its own reward, all the while evoking a paradox of feelings melding elegant, sexy flirtatiousness and vicious punishing empowerment.....Delicate tendrils of glimmering steel forged into mechanized armored lingerie, flexible stainless cable g-strings, steel mesh codpieces, vaginal armor, flame-throwing penises, and chain-laced corsets with flirty chain link garter belts.