Why a West Philly artist is selling ‘small d*cks on plaques’ on Facebook

Katie Rauth says she’ll entertain a bidding war for the plaster penises she’s selling in a Philly Facebook group.

Artist Katie Rauth is selling "small dicks on plaques."

Artist Katie Rauth is selling "small dicks on plaques."

Katie Rauth

In the market for a conversation piece? A West Philly artist is offering dick plaques in the popular local Facebook group Internet Yard Sale of Philadelphia for selling and trading. The dicks are $15 each, but the sculptor, Katie Rauth, is open to bidding wars, per the ad she penned late this afternoon. If you want one, act fast: Out of the four she has posted, one has already sold.

Only small dicks are available, though.

“Honestly, because the bigger ones are on display in my house right now, and I’m too attached to give them up,” Rauth explained. Where she lives, the plaques are mounted above the fireplace, near hanging heart-leaf plants. Rauth, who resides in a communal house in Clark Park, was cleaning up her basement studio and came across these pieces, which she had stored.

The fireplace in Rauth's home, where she keeps the large ones.

The fireplace in Rauth's home, where she keeps the large ones.

Katie Rauth

“Eventually, I’ll end up selling those,” she said of the big members, “but right now I’m only selling the ones that were in my studio and those happened to be the smaller dicks.”

The comments on the ad are full of wisecracks, of course. “Do you have any dicks ‘in a box,’” one of the group’s members asked.

“You should advertise them as Trump penis casts…” one man suggested.

“Only in Philly do you see a woman trying to sell her dick. ?,” one woman reacted.

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Facebook screenshot

Rauth, now 25, made these in college five years ago when she was a self-described “baby feminist” at Arcadia University.

“At the time, I took this piece so seriously. It was the first piece of art or installation I had made that, a) wasn’t for an assignment and b) I got to show in an exhibition,” she said. “I wouldn’t necessarily call it a solo show, but I guess that’s what it was.” The name of the exhibition? “Dicks.”

In case you’re wondering, yes, this art was inspired by real life.

“Some are friends; some are friends of friends,” Rauth said of the models who helped with her exhibition. “About seven of them [were] members of the soccer team at the time.” She used a skin-safe molding agent that sets in just 10 minutes. “I poured the alginate into Chinese takeout soup containers and had them stick their dicks in it until it set,” Rauth explained via text. The plaques have space for engraving, but remain empty.

Rauth's original exhibition. "I believe I just called it 'Dicks,'" she said.

Rauth's original exhibition. "I believe I just called it 'Dicks,'" she said.

Katie Rauth

The mounted phalluses were hung in front of plush chair and Persian rug— as Rauth described it, “old man looking furniture.” Drawing a connection to hunting trophies, the furnishings gave the impression that cigar smoke was missing and instead of taxidermy, there were penises. She made 25 overall, but showed 13. Complaints poured in. Arcadia students had harsh criticism and distressing, ugly comments in online forums. The university made her hang signs that the show bore sensitive content, but she faced no discipline.

Several times during our interview, she noted that that was a long time ago for her, philosophically. These days, she’s working at a couple galleries and preparing herself for grad school applications. She’s a drag queen (not king, she dresses as a female drag impersonator) and hosts a show, “Wavelengths,” at Vox Populi, where she also works. Her next show is April 20.

“The piece isn’t really nuanced— only at like, feminism 101 level,” she said. “I come from an upper-middle class family in North Jersey. I don’t know if I was seeing all the nuances of feminism and all the intersectionality that I would get into.

“I thought getting across my message through shock value was the best way to get people’s attention to talk about things… to flip the script on men and say ‘see how you like it,’ but that’s not the way I’d address these issues [now.]”

The penises are plaster, so if you buy one, be careful. Rauth’s roomates have knocked a couple over and broken them easily. “If I had used Hydrocal [cement],” Rauth said in hindsight, “they might have lasted.”

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