Marissa Diamond

“My artwork explores the human body, preconceived ideas about beauty and art, and the gendering of art-making methods.  I am influenced by the Pattern and Decoration Movement and the fashion industry.  Additionally, I am interested in the physicality of paint, clay, and crochet. I think of paint and clay as though they were body parts and crochet elements in my work as a force that influences the movement of our bodies, much like clothing.

In my process, I take inspiration for my colour palette from fashion.  I repurpose bits of dried paint blobs by cutting them out or peeling them off of wax paper and then collaging them into paintings. My sculptures are made of pieces of recycled clay that are assembled like a collage after being bisqued.  Using materials that are typically seen as waste is a commentary on how our society regards physical body traits that do not meet the standard definition of beauty, a standard that is dictated by the male gaze. If certain body parts do not fit the narrow beauty standards projected by the media, then we are made to feel that we must ‘fix’ or rid ourselves of these body parts as if they are garbage.  I also use pieces of crochet material to imprint texture into my clay sculptures.  This kind of mark-making resembles red dents left in our skin from garments that restrict body movement.  Similar to tight clothing, rigid beauty standards are used as a way to police bodies and control how we feel about our own bodies and those of others.

The history of ceramics, crochet, and collage also informs my practice.  These methods of making have been relegated to being craft rather than art.  In particular, crochet and collage have been labeled as feminine activities; therefore, they are often considered subordinate to other methods of art making such as painting, a predominantly male discipline.  I use unwanted and feminized techniques to create tactile surfaces resembling characteristics of the human body that are viewed as undesirable such as bumps, blemishes, wrinkles, cellulite, curves, and bulges.  By using undervalued techniques in my paintings and sculptures and bringing them into a fine art context, I am subverting the notion of these materials and techniques as low art.

My use of paint on clay sculptures is also intentional.  In order for a piece to officially become ceramic, it must undergo a glaze firing where an impervious substance is fused to the clay body at high heat. Instead, I paint on top of the clay.  Through this process, I challenge conventional definitions of ceramics and painting.  By breaking away from traditional perspectives on beauty and art, I am able to create pieces that question male entitlement in regards to women’s bodies and the control of all bodies by the media.  My practice is about discovering novel ways of thinking of the body.”

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