Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In Conversation... Ariana Page Russell

Fixation_Ariana Page Russell
After Party, archival inkjet print 45 x 66 cm.  Work by Ariana Page Russell, courtesy of Magnan Metz Gallery.


One of the most eye catching and popular body of work in Fixation is that by Ariana Page Russell.  Town Hall Gallery is incredibly lucky to exhibit six photographic works by Ariana, who is based in New York. We chatted to Ariana about her inspiration and her working methods with her skin!

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 



Currently I live in New York City, but have lived all over the United States.  I was born in Reno, Nevada (I returned there later to get my BFA); then lived in Maui, Hawaii; San Francisco, California; and Seattle Washington (where I got my MFA).  In New York I'm a freelance photographer and blogger, while making art.  My blog is about sensitive skin, art, creativity, and health, and is called Skin Tome.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?
My work is photography based and inspired by skin.  I photograph my skin and also make temporary tattoos with these photos.  The work in Fixation is photographs of me wearing tattoos made from photographs of skin.  To get these shapes, colors, and patterns, I print the photos in varying shades of pink and red, then cut them into smaller pieces to make collages.  I scan the collage, then print it on a special tattoo paper at home.  And finally, I cut the tattoos out by hand.  I also make custom wallpaper and fabric, plus some sculpture too.


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Viewer enjoying Ariana's works at Fixation.






WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?





I've always loved photography.  When I was in graduate school I started photographing drawings I'd make on my skin.  These drawings are possible because of a skin condition I have called dermatographia.  Painless and temporary welts form when I lightly scratch my skin, and I make the welts into words and patterns.  This has been the inspiration for my work ever since (that was in 2003).

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?
The thing I'm most proud of is my blog Skin Tome.  With it, I seek to educate people about dermatographia, and form a community around skin that is positive and accepting.  Spreading the word about dermatographia has been such an awesome experience!  I've heard from people all over the world who also have it: Hong Kong, Slavakia, Columbia, Brazil, all over the United States, Turkey, and Canada to name a few.





IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?





I am inspired by artists that make visceral and powerful work.  For example, Hannah Wilke, Carolee Schneeman, Laura Splan, Vito Acconci, Janine Antoni, and lots of other artists that use their bodies as inspiration.  If I could collaborate with any artist, it would be Yayoi Kusama.  I love her playfulness and patterns.  

WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?
I have a studio near my house in Brooklyn, but I also work from home.  I make the tattoos at home too, so it's nice to mix up my working locations.  I'm always in the mood to create, it's just a matter of physically taking the action of creation, and I can do that anywhere.






IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?





Music is helpful for me to focus in the studio.  I'll just put my itunes on shuffle and get a variety of stuff from hip hop to ambient to rock.

WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY WITH THEM FROM SEEING YOUR WORKS




?
I hope to bring awareness to the beauty and oddness of skin.  It's such a fascinating organ!

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?
In 10 years I'd like to be making a living with my art and blog, continuing to form community around skin and to make art about it.  I imagine skin can be my source of inspiration for the rest of my life!


Fixation is open to the public until 13 April, 2014.

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