A young woman lays in repose on a sateen draped sofa in her Bronx living room, unaware of photographer and filmmaker Maria Marrone exploring her relaxed composition. Marrone desires to photograph alternative concepts of beauty through her ongoing "muse" portrait series. Whether in the comfort of her subject's home or on their daily commute to work, Marrone's mission as an artist is in highlighting personal narratives, colorful personalities, and physical attributes. She captures those in front of her camera in solitude to emphasize how one behaves and performs when alone.
Marrone says, "I'm fascinated about the idea of capturing the muse. I focus a lot on photographing women, because that's a body I understand. Yet my feminism is further than womanhood, beyond gender. The way I define my feminism comes from a very humanistic place, finding a place as an individual first."
The Venezuelan-born, New York-based artist identifies as a woman photographing women to express how beauty standards are imposed on women. Her portraits are inspired by muses found in Western art paintings, from the women in Vermeer's pieces to the dancers in Henri de Toulouse's drawings. The paintings of women are acknowledged as beautiful rather than sexy. Marrone wants to embrace the traditional allure she finds in these paintings while challenging the idea of beauty in connection to sexuality and womanhood. Her photography isn't confined to a certain type of woman, and her pieces strive to spotlight the inherent beauty of all women.
The New York University film student is dedicated to representing diverse ethnicities and body types in her photography. Marrone acknowledges the Western world's standard of beauty through personal experience and expresses the challenges women face when they don't reflect that idea. She says, "People don't see me as a girl. Being a very round and curvaceous Latina brings along certain levels of treatment. I don't get fetishized for being cutesy, I get sexualized."
Marrone enjoys shooting street photography as much as portraiture. She focuses less time on building shoots within a studio and instead captures subjects tackling daily moments. She photographs her subjects in the comfort of their homes along with loved ones to express a relaxed exchange between the subject and the photographer. Her portraits tend to be of friends or people she admires from a distance, both men and women.
In addition to capturing women, she explores the idea of being inspired by a male subject. Marrone plans on combining photographs of men and women she took over the years with present images. This series explores how time and distance changes the relationship between both parties, both the subject and the photographer. Marrone also creates short films about the complexities of being a bicultural woman, keeping her family traditions from Venezuela while living in the United States. Her film Carta a Mi Madre, translated to English as "A Letter to My Mother," explores her family structure and how she considers her mother.
Marrone says, "Narratives are important. I think if there's anything I feel strongly about in terms of the situation that the world is in right now, it's that representation is important. Everyone has to sit down and open their minds and open up a dialogue. It gives room for solidarity."
To see more of Maria Marrone's work and upcoming projects, visit her website.
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