Multi Media Visual Artist Trina Merry
Trina Merry is a multi media visual artist from New York, she went to film school, worked in various departments on film and tv sets and then discovered bodypaint thanks a rock cabaret show with The Dresden Dolls (Amanda Palmer, TED Talk, and Brian Vigilone, Violent Femmes) and Australian band The Red Paintings. Merry was asked to stand on stage and get body painted and cites that as a direction-shifting experience.
At the time of changing mediums, Merry was exhibiting in several West Coast and International galleries, doing up to 9 exhibitions a month.
Trina Merry has primarily explored self-identity, body image, and consumerism in her work. The majority of her work contains a living person and her work utilizes many mediums including: performance art, painting, video, sculpture and installation. She often challenges perspective and creates work from a single (subjective) perspective point creating op art illusions. Her work is ephemeral and connects to ancient historic art practices.
Today Trina bring us Astrology Series, she sculpted the bodies into a shape, painted on top of the bodies and then documented the work with photography. Taking up to nine-hours to put together, each human sculpture is made up of as many as nine models taking part in this latest bodypaint series by New York artist Trina Merry.
This work has a heartbeat and a breath, it is dynamically alive
Leo was high energy, there were fourteen people who worked on that piece
Everything started when she examined Italian Renaissance painting and sculptures. Philosophers of the renaissance believed that humans physically absorbed planetary rays and this had physical and psychological effects. Interestingly, the art works were believed to capture planetary rays and then transmit celestial radiation. Astrology was considered not only to be beautiful but also functional and was therefore a popular theme commissioned by educated European patrons.
Not too dissimilar from today, wealthy patrons felt horoscopes played into family fortunes. Wealth, power and status were conveyed through the artworks they commissioned.
From the visual works of Raphael and Botticelli to the written words of Dante and Shakespeare, we can see the impact astrology has had on the history of art and it’s seductive power.
Astrology is a only gaining more momentum as a pop culture topic in literature, movies and television so I examine that aesthetic and impact here in this series.
I’ve looked to classical antiquity sculptors who created massive sculptures with multiple fine art nude figures. I’ve brought this into a more contemporary conversation using trompe de’oiel Op art.
It took a year to create this series. This has been a particularly interesting year. I have examined my ideas about consumerism and limited myself to only owning what fits into 3 primary colored suitcases. This allowed me to fly or drive quickly to a location to make these works.
It took weeks to plan each of the pieces and hours to paint them. I created sketches of the symbols and then got all the models together for a rehearsal. I sculpted the bodies and photographed them. I then drew the shape on top of the photos and added color. The day of the shoot, I reformed the shapes and tried to re-work the design according to the volunteer performers bodies. Sometimes I had to re-sculpt the design on site and even send some of the performers home if their bodies didn’t fit the sculpture.
The whole process took me 2-9 hours with the average work taking about six hours with the help of assistants. The finished result existed only briefly before the models hopped on the subways to go home and wash the paint off – with just a video and some photographs to record it.
These types of paintings always take enormous physical and mental energy to create but ultimately the impact is jaw-dropping and I have a lot of fun creating the work.