Born in Barcelona, Noelia Towers taught herself to paint and draw, spending most of her time on creative ventures. Now 24 and living in Chicago, she has grown into an incredibly talented artist, as well as a model, feminist, and lingerie collector. Through her artwork she explores BDSM and kink both as an aesthetic and as a form of sexual empowerment. She’s inspired by feminist culture, her personal experiences, and the many sexually liberated women she has come to know.

Dear Darkling had to opportunity to sit down with Noelia and discuss the importance of consent in kink, fighting oppression through humor, finding healing through art, and living to make cis men uncomfortable.

noelia towers
Image Credit: Jenny Mayfield

Dear Darkling: Your work illustrates skill and talent that seems far beyond your 24 years. At what age did you start painting? Do you have any formal training, or are you entirely self taught? What is your favorite medium to work with?

Noelia Towers: Thank you! I started painting when I was 7-8, but stopped when I turned 13. My parents didn’t have money to pay for private painting classes so they signed me up for this group class with people who were handicapped or had mental health issues.

My favorite medium to work with at the moment, and for the last three years, is acrylic, even though I learned how to paint using oils. I had to switch to acrylic due to ventilation issues. Oils were not an option when I moved to Chicago so I had to switch.

BDSM, and powerful, dominant women in particular, feature prominently in your work. Why did you decide to focus on this subject matter in your art? What message do you intend to convey through this prominence?

It all started from an aesthetic point of view, but the deeper I went the more I realized how much I was into the kinky stuff I was painting about. It’s a constant journey of finding myself through my art, and also seeking to give others a voice through it. I hope people can look at my work and see a reflection of themselves in my paintings.

noelia towers
Pain/Pleasure, acrylic on wood

“The images I create are often very aggressive because I apply the BDSM doctrine into social injustice. I make art against rape culture; I talk about killing your rapist. I tell women they don’t need oppressive men. I encourage women to not be ashamed of their sexual orientation despite their age, gender, or race. I fight racism. I show no respect for sexist men.”

Why do you think it is important to educate people on BDSM and sex positivity within feminism?

I don’t think BDSM is as important as sex positivity is, but one might be found through the other. BDSM leads to the other. I think it’s important that we don’t feel ashamed for the things we like as long as they involve a consensual agreement. When I think of BDSM I think of consent, and that is the main thing for me. It means to be in control, whether you are the dom or the sub. You pick your limits, you find your boundaries and you push yourself. You put yourself to the test, but you are always in control no matter what your part is.

What do you think the most common misconceptions are about BDSM?

There are so many misconceptions. For instance, BDSM does not have to involve sexual contact, opposed to what most people think. BDSM is not violent. Doms are seen as terrible bosses who like to treat their subs like dogs, but it’s actually the sub who is in control. The sub chooses to be treated that way, so the dom pleases that need. Another is that someone who is dominant or submissive in real life will prefer a similar role in BDSM. That is absolutely not true. Research shows that people who tend to be bossy in their lives tend to like being dominated when role playing in BDSM, and I agree because that’s how I feel. Ooops!

Some argue that BDSM is anti-feminist and even misogynistic. Your art clearly illustrates the empowering nature of reclaiming sexuality, especially through your series Mean Girls. Why do you think this is important to illustrate?

As I always say, I see BDSM as role playing in which both parts agree to taking their roles and informed consent plays an essential part in this. None of these practices represent my social values; it’s just something I do in my bedroom, in the privacy of my own house. This community is very inclusive and there is a wild range of practices. It can go from soft and mild to life threatening, but what I love about it is how it allows you to explore and push your boundaries and you are able to find out things you didn’t know about yourself. It is for everyone willing to embrace it.
The images I create are often very aggressive because I apply the BDSM doctrine into social injustice. I make art against rape culture; I talk about killing your rapist. I tell women they don’t need oppressive men. I encourage women to not be ashamed of their sexual orientation despite their age, gender or race. I fight racism. I show no respect for sexist men.

“I live to make cis white men uncomfortable.”

noelia towers
The Executioner  from Mean Girls

Why do you think so many women feel empowered by overt and unapologetic sexuality? Why do you feel this makes so many people uncomfortable?

Because they probably have to endure the same shit as we all do, that’s why they can relate to my work. I live to make cis white men uncomfortable.

Wit and humor sits comfortably alongside your art, whether through sassy captions or googly eyed vaginas. Why do you use this as a tool?

I use my sense of humor to get rid of all the taboos on the subjects I explore. I’ve always been a goof ball since I was very little. I even considered becoming a clown (no joke) but then as I started growing up I realized my life was enough of a joke.

When I was younger someone told me, “You have to be funny because you’re not very pretty. The only way you are going to get men’s attention is if you make them laugh,” and look! I guess it worked, right?

noelia towers
Taco Tuesday from Mean Girls

In Women & Birds you juxtapose women clad in black leather and chains, wielding whips and axes, with birds, and the result is quite powerful. What was the inspiration and intention behind this series?

noelia towers
The Breeder from Women & Birds

It all comes from a very abusive 5 year relationship. I got out of that dark place a little over 3 years ago and when I started painting women and birds, realized there was an analogy being unconsciously made. I was like a bird in a cage and I had to set myself free.

noelia towers
The Releaser from Women & Birds

How did you connect with the women you painted for this series?

Some of them are my friends and girls I admire, some of them I’ve meet through the Internet. None of my subjects are randomly picked. There is always something about a person that triggers an urge inside me to paint them.

You are both a creator of art and a muse/model. Do you find that playing both roles has an influence on your art? Which role do you prefer?

I love being a subject for other artists. I love bringing in my art direction to the game and create things that are out of my skill, like photography, but I do prefer being the one behind the easel. My “beauty,” or whatever it is, will fade one day, but my skill will remain even when my hands are shaky. I hope I can still communicate through my paintings.

noelia towers
Collaboration between Hvnter Gvtherer and Heather Gabel

You are an avid lingerie collector. What are some of your favorite brands?

I have so many favorite brands: Agent Provocateur, L’Agent by AP, Lonely, Journelle, la fille d’O, The Model Traitor, Adina Reay, Bordelle, Simone Perele, DSTM…so many!!!!

noelia towers
Nun from Mean Girls

Do you have any new projects in the works that we can look forward to seeing from you?

You can peek current work via Instagram, @noeliatowers.

I’m currently working on an awesome group show at one of my favorite Chicago galleries Ars Memoria <3 I can’t wait to give out more details.

noelia towers
Artemis

In addition to her Instagram, you can also keep up with Noelia’s work on her website, and purchase prints, pins, and totes in her shop.

PS. Are you as in love with Noelia as we are? Head over to our Instagram to find out how to win one of her new pins!

All artwork is property of Noelia Towers and is not to be used without artist’s permission.

Haleigh Schiafo

Haleigh Schiafo

Haleigh is a lover of all things dark and magical. She works in fashion, is the co-founder of Babe Coven, and editor-in-chief of Dear Darkling. Follow her on IG to keep up with her latest darkling musings and desires, her all black everything wardrobe, and no shortage of cat photos.

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