Location: Los Angeles
Body painting is a four-dimensional art form that has height and width like a painted canvas, as well as depth and durability like a sculpture. It is ephemeral and transient with a small touch of spontaneous movement like a dancer. Its fleeting beauty can only be captured by an audience or the camera lens, which creates a very personal connection between the model and the artist.
Walking down the Hive Gallery I noticed photographs of a female covered in elaborate black and white strips. Her body was transformed into canvas filled with thick lace brush strokes, giving an illusion of broken glass. As my curiosity grew bigger I met Mirabelle Jones a performance artist, visual artist, and the model in the photograph.
I pulled her aside and asked, Why do you choose art?
I choose art because it’s sneaky. Art has the power to change the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us without our ever being conscious of it. Art has the power to grow movements, to give voice to the oppressed, to speak truths beyond the limitations of spoken language. Art endures throughout time as a microcosm of our complicated, temporal humanity. When we are gone as a species, it is quite possible that our art and our art alone will serve as a justification of human kind’s most beautiful and emphatically creative moments. It is our heart made visible.
Why do you choose to have your body painted?
When Daisuke Okamoto (the artists who painted me) and I made the decision to take on the Woman For Sale project, we were interested in transforming the female body into a living illustration. We wanted to challenge the way the female body is objectified in illustrative works by re-contextualizing the body of the artist as the artwork itself.
Daisuke had never painted on skin before, and I had never been completely body painted from head to toe. The process took a challenging 8 hours to complete in 90 degree heat in my LA studio. Because my body was completely covered in layers of grease paint, and because of the heat, I grew faint and nauseous a few times and we had to continue the painting outside on the patio. Lying outside naked with a paint brush pressing against my skin, I felt a vulnerability that reminded me of the trust we place in one another every day, the trust we place both in observing and being observed, in touching and being touched. As an advocate and a survivor I know that sometimes this trust is violated in horrible ways.
Tell us about Woman For Sale?
Woman for Sale is an effort to raise funds for victims of sex trafficking, people who have had their trust in humanity violated in the worst way. In the process of researching for this project, I was appalled to learn that while an estimated 25,000 women and children are trafficked in the U.S. every year, and while California is home to three of the FBI’s top 13 cities for human trafficking, only 529 dedicated beds in shelters exist in the United States. Only 30 of those are in LA. I wanted to make an effort to support the resources which currently exist for survivors of human trafficking, and to raise awareness that current resources are not enough. All proceeds from the project will be turned into donations for CA-based dedicated shelters for victims of human trafficking. It is my hope that this project makes a difference to our discussion of the subject of objectification in art as well as life.
For more information about Mirabelle Jones please visit her website at MirabelleJones.com.