Ariana Page Russell

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Net, 2011

archival inkjet print, 26" x 30"

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This work starts with my skin. Not only do I have sensitive skin that easily flushes, I also have dermatographia, a condition in which one’s immune system releases excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and temporary welts to appear when the 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, the reaction is involuntary like the nature of a blush. I’m interested in externalizing internal processes, and by showing dermatographic welts I bring attention to the actions of my immune system. I make temporary tattoos out of photographs of my blushing and welted skin. Placing these pink and red tattoos on my face and chest, I wear the blush as war paint or a window on emotion. Then I document removing the tattoos to reveal tones and raw skin underneath. Recording this process of peeling away the mask of tattoos also shows how pulling my face distorts it, making a mask of the face. Rather than being frustrated by my skin’s sensitivity and translucency, I claim it as part of my creative process, becoming more comfortable in my own skin as I help others do the same.

Artworks by Ariana Page Russell

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