Normally used for its aesthetic capabilities, body painting gains a much more political dimension in the work of Trina Merry.The artist, who includes painted bodies in all strands of her multimedia work, uses the human form to probe issues of power and limitations of freedom in stunning works that blend bodies into their surroundings.
In her Lost at Wonder series, the artist painted a man’s body and photographed it at each of the renowned “Seven Wonders of the World.” From the Pyramids of Giza to the Great Wall of China, her subjects stoically blend into famous vistas in an attempt to create an alternative narrative to these touristic locations which are so heavily photographed and superficially absorbed by Western tourists.
In her work, Merry states that she is “not trying to make people disappear completely—I’m not a magician and could more easily and cheaply use digital art as a medium. Instead, I’m trying to actually draw attention to the human in the environment and bring these places back to life. I want you to see the people who are invisible on the street; the man you just walked by but didn’t get to know. When I select a composition or location, I’m looking for an angle that people don’t ordinarily see.”
Merry’s project Sweet Land of Liberty places nude, painted, and often coupled individuals at historically political US sites, like the White House and the Washington Monument to explore “the architectural symbols of power versus the people” and to “celebrate First Amendment freedoms and wanting to push them farther,” Merry explains.
The artist’s preference for using humans as a canvas relates to the innate vivacity and ephemerality inherent to the medium. “Body painting has a heartbeat, a breath, a twinkle in the eye. My painting can scream, it can dance, it can stand still for incredibly long periods of time,” says Merry. “Temporal artwork is reflective of the contemporary culture, and the ‘experience’ is an essential act for our age.”
However, Merry does not want to be considered solely as a "body painter," as she does more than just the painting in her work, “I consider myself a multimedia artist that simply includes body paint in my practice. I also do photography, videography, installation, painting, sculpting, and so on, but I include a painted person in each work I make.”
Check out Trina Merry’s eclectic, multimedia body paintings here.