For most of us, getting a bruise is just an unfortunate reminder that we tripped over something the other day. But, for the badass women of roller derby, bruises — known as "kisses" in the community — are a point of pride. And Finnish artist Riikka Hyvonen, who has played on two different roller derby teams, has found the perfect way to capture them in all their painful beauty.
The striking images may initially look like photos, but they're actually huge, three-dimensional paintings. Friends send Hyvonen the original photos, and she begins the process of sketching players' bodies and carving wood to make their shorts. She then paints the bruises on leather, which requires several layers to look realistic, she says. The finished products fall somewhere between paintings and sculptures.
While there's clearly pain captured in the images, there's also strength. "Posting photos online and competing — in who’s got the most colorful, biggest bruise — has become an essential part of the roller derby culture," Riikka explains in an email. "A colorful bruise is a sort of a trophy for a derby player — a true sign of bravery after a well-played game." Somehow, showing off the bruises in these painting-sculptures just seems like the next logical step in celebrating that honor.