Ariana Page Russell: dressing

April 9- May 30, 2009


Magnan Projects is pleased to present Dressing, the second solo exhibition for Ariana Page Russell at the gallery.  Using her skin as her canvas, Russell creates a series of tattoos—or dressings—to adorn her own body.  

What makes these tattoos unique is their source.  The artist has a skin condition called dermatographia in which painless scratching on her skin’s surface creates red welts that remain for about 30 minutes.  Russell has been using her skin as the subject of her artwork since 2005 by photographing cropped images of body parts with writing or patterns.  She also creates wallpaper with photographs of her skin cut into decorative designs and attaches them to the wall or onto board.  

In Dressings, Russell has taken this process to a new level.  She explains, “Recently, I’ve turned some of the patterns made from skin into temporary tattoos, adorning my skin in a different way than drawing on it directly… These tattoos become an intimate fashion as their own sort of clothing, and an additional translucent layer for the fashion of skin... I am investigating where one surface ends and another begins … and how shifting exteriors reveal as they conceal.”  

Rather than hiding behind her condition, Russell is empowered by it.  She puts herself in front of the camera playing with ideas of fashion and concepts of beauty, what she terms “the bloom of adornment.”  In “Capricious” Russell takes a close-up of her face featuring a flesh toned, decorative eye patch of sorts.  Bright lights accentuate her chiseled features, erasing all evidence of her dermatographia and presenting her in a hi-fashion style.    

Ariana Page Russell graduated from the University of Nevada with a BFA in Photography and BA in Psychology.  She received her MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2005. She received a review in Art in America for her first solo show at Magnan Projects (Axial Bloom 2006-07) and was featured in ABC News 20/20.  In 2008 Russell received the Artist Trust Grant for Artist Project.  She has exhibited at numerous galleries throughout the US and recently moved to New York City from Seattle, Washington.