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visual artist and writer marisol diaz

i am a self-defined Nuyorican creative (that is a Puerto Rican who is from both the isles of Manhattan, NYC and the Caribbean). I share daily in the joy of education and live in a cute port town in New York, in a 'teensy-weensy' apartment with my two dogs and canary named Valentino. Check out my Etsy shop for purchasable pieces. Please do not reproduce imagery off of this site without explicit credit and no derivatives may be made of my original imagery- Thank You.

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« Music and Creativity (part I) | Main | The Three Graces - A Contemporary Revision »

Cleopatra- A Contemporary Revision

These days I'm posting about the Herstory Exhibit. The first post can be found through the blog archives under Herstory. Then be sure to check out my revision of Judith and Holofernes, and The Three Graces which can also be found in the Blog Archive. They are all categorized together now!

The Death of Cleopatra by Johann Liss

I based my revision of Cleopatra on the composition by Johann Liss from 1622 entitled the Death of Cleopatra. I am always so amazed at how many artist renditions of Cleopatra offer a very fair skinned version of Cleopatra with cognizance of ethnicity when it comes to the handmaids and servants. Despite contemporary rhetoric on the true origins of Cleopatra and her heritage, many of these paintings were painted at a time when all anyone knew was that she was queen of Egypt. Notice the two figures surrounding Cleopatra in Johann's version. There is the figure holding the basket of asps and figure leaning over to get a better look at the definitive choice of death.


The above piece is entitled, Cleopatra's Alchemy. It is done with graphite, liquid acrylic glaze and spray paint on raw wood. It is around 36" x 36" I wanted to focus on the fact that many people don't realize Cleopatra was an avid scientist and alchemist. She studied poisons and therefore knew the most effective way with which to end her life when she chose to. I hand-cut stencils with the alchemical symbols of mercury, gold, silver and the ouroboros (the snake eating its own tail) to demonstrate her wisdom. Alchemy also lends itself to the idea of reincarnation...

Cleopatra photo by marisol diaz

My husband (artist Gregg Emery) feels quite passionate about the photos from the Herstory project being a very different body of work than the paintings and thinks they shouldn't be butted up against each other (like I did in the last post). I am going to agree. So I am including only a small thumbnail of the image here:

Models: Ally Rodrigues (with basket), Maya Guneseharan (Cleo), Dana Butler (onlooker)

As you can see, I altered many things from that springboard photograph. The most satisfying part of creating the artwork was discovering the aesthetic satisfaction and power of working on a raw unprimed surface like that of wood. In the detail shot below you can have a better sense of the raw graphite line and the natural grain of the wood working together.


Well, we're in June and school is almost FINISHED (I have two days left!!) Which means it's almost time for my first GIVEAWAY post! So stayed tuned and look out, because before June is out I will be posting a Giveaway Collage Post and selecting a 'winner' from the comments to mail the small piece of artwork to for free!

Reader Comments (2)

where as i needent be enticed to stop in,, i am thrilled to hear you are giving away a piece of your artwork,, what a blessing to the recipient...

the detail on this pice as shown in the close up face shot is amazing to a non artist... i am always grateful for the back story you provide,, as i have no real working knowledge of what creation when it comes to art....

June 10, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpaisley

i love the way the finish of the wood interacts with the lines of faces and even the subtle color variations as well. I love this piece, partially because I know the people, love the artist but i also picture it hanging in a gallery or museum somewhere and see it holding its own despite my bias.

June 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstain boy

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