A body is an index of passing time. Skin protects us as it shows shifting bones, bruising, muscles loosening and tightening, and freckles and wrinkles forming. I think of this as a transient fashion of skin, including the revealing way a blush decorates one’s cheek, freckles form constellations on an arm, or hair creates sheen on skin’s matte surface.
My skin is very sensitive and I blush easily. I have dermatographia, a condition in which one’s immune system releases excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear (lasting about thirty minutes) when the hypersensitive skin’s surface is lightly scratched. This allows me to painlessly draw on my skin with just enough time to photograph the results. Even though I can direct this ephemeral response by drawing on it, the reaction is involuntary, much like the uncontrollable nature of a blush.
In my recent series, Interior Optics, I start with very detailed images of my skin with some dermatographic drawings. Then I manipulate the color and saturation to produce bright, almost neon photos, simulating otherworldly terrain and diagnostic imaging.
I also make wallpaper and collage with photographs of my skin cut into decorative designs, then attached to the wall or onto board. I use these collages to decorate my skin by scanning the patterns and making them into temporary tattoos. Then I place the tattoos back on my body as an additional layer for the fashion of skin. The tattoos are red and pink shades of sensitivity so I can adorn myself with a longer lasting, intentional welt or blush.
Ariana Page Russell creates images that explore the skin as a document of human experience, using her own hypersensitive flesh to illustrate the ways we expose, express, adorn and articulate ourselves.
Ariana has exhibited internationally and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Recent exhibitions include the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin; Magnan Metz in New York City; Platform Gallery in Seattle; Town Hall Gallery in Australia; the Luminato Festival in Toronto, Canada; Adelphi University in New York; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Bolivia. Her work has appeared in Art in America, the Huffington Post, Wired, The Atlantic, VISION Magazine: China, and the monograph ‘Dressing’ published by Decode Books. She was featured on ABC News 20/20 and was a recent participant in the Sexto Encuentro Mundial de Arte Corporal in Caracas, Venezuela. She received her MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2005.
To see more of Ariana’s work and her full CV, visit ArianaPageRussell.com