Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Being a part of something bigger: Taking a stand with my art

Why are you here, on this earth? I’m genuinely asking you to pause for a moment to consider. What’s important to you, what do you stand for? How do you express that? What are you going to say with your life?

Helping people, pragmatism, and self expression are important to me. I stand for the spirit of giving, and for people overcoming their obstacles. I’m excited by colors, sparkles, and clean line work. I want people to know they are capable of creating a life they love, and it’s my mission to experience this life to its utmost capacity.

My art is one of the best tools I have to get people to really hear my ideas (aside from showing some skin...people tune into that quickly too). Body painting is bright, unusual enough for a second look, and so alive that it craves interaction.

When the Desnudas hit the news, Dani was very vocal with me about her opinion of the whole thing. Body paint in the media, and it gets portrayed like THAT?! I knew I was dissatisfied with the mixing of the art form I love and cherish with the “cause celebre” of public nudity. We vented about it to each other at length. The masses don’t get how beautiful, colorful, detailed, and magical this art form can be...they just see boobs in paint plastered all over the news stories. What the Desnudas do it fine. It’s valid, it serves a purpose...But what they do is not what we do. They make tourists stop and stare; We make art. I wanted people to know the wonders that body paint can be outside of this gimmicky nudity conversation.

Dani decided to coordinate a team of colleagues to create an installation of body paintings in Times Square, using incredible artistry to bring a positive spin to body art. The project would be called Art Transcends: Changing the Conversation about Art in NYC. Our goal was to create art what would “transcend nudity, gimmicks, and politics.” When Dani asked me to be on the lead crew of painters, I was quite tickled at the invitation. And also nervous, because she was asking artists with far more fame than I have. Athena Zhe, Yvonne MacInnis, Kyle Harder, and Suzanne Winwood would all be on the team. As the days neared, and things with the project started to go wrong, my nerves became increasingly palpable. It would have been really convenient to be “sick” the day of the project...which totally crossed my mind. But I knew I’d be there, because that’s what I was committed to - standing for my art form.
I hoped to make some great art, especially because I didn’t want to flop in front of peer artists...but great art was only a fraction of the project. The point was the tell a story, add our voice to the conversation, make people stop and see something in a way they hadn’t seen it before.

And it truth, I didn’t love the art I did that day. But oh my goodness, I loved the people. I loved the spirit in the room while we were prepping our models. I loved the Christian woman that came up to Dani and expressed her disapproval of public nudity, but said our project was great and no one would notice the nudity anyway. I loved the raucous approval on social media, the storm of likes and commentary debate that came through. I love that Michael Devellis from The Powder Group was so blown away by our project that he chose to share it with his makeup community via an article in On Makeup Magazine. We definitely had people talking, and finally about something other than painted ta-ta’s. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! #ArtTranscends!

This project and it’s message was so much bigger than me. My minor existential issue was a mere footnote of that day. And at the end of it, I’m so glad I let it be a fleeting thought instead of a meltdown. My b.s. was so petty in comparison to the things we created that day. I was about to hold “not looking bad” as a higher priority than our mission. Instead I checked my commitment, and remembered I had something to say that needed to be heard.
Stand for what you believe in,

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