ART + SCIENCE: Ariana Page Russell
Ariana Page Russell, a photographer born and raised in Northern Nevada, currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She received her BFA from University of Nevada, Reno and continued on to earn her MFA from University of Washington, Seattle. She exhibits her work nationally and internationally.
Featured today is her series entitled “Skin”. Most commonly thought of as the soft outer covering of a body, it is also the largest organ and serves to guards the underlying muscles, bones, ligaments and internal organs. Yet Russell focuses on the “transient fashion of skin” from the patterns of freckles to unique discolorations. To create the images in “Skin”, she makes marks upon her own hypersensitive skin causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear, then photographs the patterns formed on her body.
While the primary function of skin is to defend the body, Russell uses skin to raise questions about human vulnerability.
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 adorn, express and articulate ourselves.
Russell 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. Russell is also a creativity coach and the author of Skintome, a website about skin and creativity.
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 the drawings enable me to direct this ephemeral response, the reaction is involuntary, much like the uncontrollable nature of a blush.
I’m externalizing internal functions, adding to the fashion of skin with patterned dermatographic welts.
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