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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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HerStory Exhibit Opening!

So thanks to one of my students (and Herstory participant - see her in Cleopatra Alchemy), Maya, I finally have some opening pics to share with you all. The opening was fairly successful, as far as campus openings go. The student turnout was phenomenal and as a teacher, I felt blessed with all the love!

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So these don't show the gallery at it fullest peak, but it shows some of the students I did this labor of love for and some of my art students who I care deeply about! When you see students gazing to the right outside of the gallery it's because they're watching the Herstory Re-Envisioned movie with student interviews about role-models, self-esteem and participating in the Herstory project. If you look as some of the students I'm posing with closely you'll see they are the very subjects in the paintings!!!

Hope you enjoyed virtually attending the opening!! I will be showing you more detail versions on the six paintings in the show next so stay tuned!!


Judith and the Beheading of Holofernes- Graffiti Inspired

Since I am still waiting for the images of opening night I figured I would start to show you some of the art that I made for the exhibit.


This is a 4foot by 6foot canvas painting done entirely with stencils and spray paint. I used contact paper and exacto knives, no brush, no acrylic or oils. I was so inspired after my trip to Berlin (see my posts on how I think Berlin is the graffiti capitol of the world) I really wanted to experiment with the medium.

I also have a former student who is a professional graffiti artist who stopped by and helped me make the pink bubbles - the white starburst and the yellow table! Thank you Acet!!!

This painting is based on the composition that I developed for the Herstory project which is this image that you see to the left. I based that composition on two classic versions of Judith that I love. First is Andrea Mantegna's version in which the tent is so predominant...



The second painting I am deeply inspired by is the Gentileschi Judith, one of the only versions done by a woman showing the truly rageful capacity of a woman's full strength...

I, like many other artists, have painted many different versions of Judith I really am not too fond of Caravaggio's version since it looks as though she yields the sword in disgust and mistrust of her capabilities and her handmaid doesn't appear as a trusted confidante, but an instigating persuader.

This time I was also really interested in what i think to be a deeply powerful role - that of the handmaiden, the accomplice, the assistant and in the end the BFF. If you don't know the story of Judith one of the heroines from the Bible you should read about it...it's a fascinating tale that the young women in our lives should hear!


Relaxing with Collage!

Herstory exhibit is finally up and done I can relax again. As usual, I was a chump and forgot to take pictures of the opening event!!! However, one of my students did and as soon as I get those images from her I will post them here for you all to see the exhibit yourselves, as though you were there!!!

And as usual I fretted over nothing...the student support I received was phenomenal. More students than my faculty co-workers came out to support me which was sad but much more meaningful - since in the end that is who all the work was for.

I have been so busy getting ready for the Herstory exhibit that I haven't been able to do anything fun and relaxing, now I can. However, worse than that is not having anytime to collage (which is a new relaxing habit I picked up as opposed to knitting and crocheting...hope.jpg

I love origami and scrap-booking paper, though I'm not much of a an oragami-ist or scrapbooker. I also never truly understood the power of a one-medium-only pair of scissors, until I played with fabric and paper crafts.

So if you never considered collagen like this you should!! It's a delightful way to spend a couple of hours. Find a range of different patterned papers and play!!


If you really like one of my collage illustrations, soon I will be posting some these in my etsy shop!

The Herstory Exhibit


So here it is less than 48 hours before I have to hang and exhibit my show...and I am in a complete state of angst and anxiety. My stomach is twisted into knots and I am overwhelmed with mental noise. The only problem is the chief censors in my head that inflate my LACK of self-esteem and berate me with an onslaught of criticisms that only I could come up with.
Creatives write about this all the time, it's often the stuff writer's/artist block is made up of. What is that about? How and why do we do that to ourselves?

This show would be easier than any other, and I would not be going through any emotional upheaval, if not for the fact that I am doing representational art based off of the photographic images of the Herstory project and co-workers, students, employers are expecting to see a 'likeness' captured in the art work. Like in the images above. Now just because I did that once - doesn't mean I can do it again (and there are twenty photos I had to contend with) for the show. Grant it I only made it to six but with no where near the same resolution as the image above.

Believe me when I turn on the news and hear about tornados, earthquakes and other catastrophes the drama in my little spot of the world is trivial to say the least...but why can't I invoke Eckhart Tolle - be in the present moment and turn off the ego-driven, self-flagellation machine??????

I'm tired and I have to give up and let the work be what it is. The above photograph is an old image of a painting for the exhibit. It is of one of my students named Jazmin Hudson and in this image she is posing as Vengeance from the Paul Pierre Prudhon painting/study Vengeance Pursuing Crime.


What is the Herstory project about?

Well I came up with the idea to bite off more than I should chew and tried to tackle fostering self-esteem issues in young women of color in high-school situations. I asked 'what must it feel like to be a young woman of color sitting in a Western Art history class and see image after image of White European Women?'You can check out this youtube video to get a sense of what it feels like.

That wasn't a difficult question to answer seeing as I am a woman of color who has sat in those classrooms and always felt a level of disenchantment and lack of identification.

I was inspired by artist Kehinde Wiley (whose site I urge people to go to) and the generosity of Oprah Winfrey leadership school for young girls. I thought well what do my gifts/capabilities let me do? How can I make a difference?

The idea/project began as a labor intensive after school photography shoot in which self-identified young women of color posed in the compositions of iconic images from western art history. Images that I felt portrayed, wisdom, beauty, power, influence and strength. You can see the resulting photos under portfolio's Herstory.

The first part of the project is a body of photographic work, the second is a video about the project,in which the young women are interviewed about self-esteem, role- models, the media and participating in the project. This part ended up being very difficult and too-long, as I struggled with not wanting to cut-out any young woman's voice. I showed this Herstory' movie and a summary of the photography project at a National Educator's Conference (National Assoc. of Indep. Schools People of Color Conference) in Boston this past November. I got great feedback, but agreement that the hour-long video should be cut shorter. People asked if I got paid - but I did this all as extra-curricular activities for free and the young women loved it. I did however receive a professional development grant to create the edited video.

The third part is the body of visual art I created from those images to allow the young women to see themselves larger than life in an artwork. Here we are a year later and I am doing the first exhibit of the art work on Thursday. What was I thinking? The above painting is one of the strongest images in the batch and capturing a likeness in painting has proved to be my albatross...so the other paintings are less than what I would like them to be. But time is up - and they are going to go in as they are.


Happy Mother's Day!


For all my readers that are Mom's or 'Moms to be' - Happy Mother's Day!!! Though my children are of the four-legged kind (dogs) I appreciate that special, beautiful and unique bond between mother and child. Surely I wouldn't be all that I am if not for my mother and my grandmother.

However, I want to send a shout out not only to biological mothers but mothers in which a child is born from the heart not the womb. When choosing to nurture, care and grow a deep bond for a child that was in need, you have committed an act of such great generosity, no words can fathom.

Check out Lilly, a black homeless dog. I was floored this sunday morning when watching Charles Osgood She is currently the mother of these ailing, hungry kittens.

And if that is not an amazing story enough for you see this AMAZING yet graphic video of a Leopard that goes upon its natural life - kills a baboon - but then discovers a day old baby in the baboons fur and instead of killing it (as she did the mother) she nurses the baby baboon!
So happy Mother's day!

How do you DE-stress with NO time???destress


So at this moment I'm seven days away from a 'major' solo art exhibit. Not 'major' because of locale or notoriety - (the amazing gallery in San Antonio was less stressful!) but 'major' because of expectations, people and meaning. Despite all the anxiety, leave it to me to exasperate the situation by not being finished with all the work that is to be exhibited. In seven days I need to; find around twenty photo frames of various sizes, finish painting, rent a van to transport the work to the gallery and figure out HOW to hang paintings on heavy wood panels. After a full-time job I have to come home and utilize every free possible second to finish working. I haven't been able to do housework, reading or crafting - let alone keep up with my blogging community. Don't get me wrong - I love to make art --but like most artists- I don't like deadlines (though the vicious circle is that the deadlines produce the most intense work). Needless to say, I am SEVERELY stressed out.


These images are some of the only photos I have ever taken that actually relax me just to look at them! When you don't have anytime that might be all you can do...




Lamp Worked Glass Figures


This little shadow box of glass forms hangs on my living room wall. I combined small lampworked figures with wire wrapping. For the display I added incomplete arms, that I had lying around. I also found this antique photo printed on a piece of metal. I also chose a background fabric that I thought helped to evoke a passionate mood. I hope you like it!!

The art of melting and turning hand-held glass rods in a flame is called lampworking and/ or flameworking. Often we see Moretti glass which is brightly colored 'soft' glass used to make beads in a flame.

click pic to see my beads

I have many of those and love making beads. However, borosilicate glass is a heavier/stronger/harder glass-body with a lower COE made out of the same glass the original Pyrex was made out of. Though borosilicate can come in colors too, it is most commonly used in clear. I love borosilicate, with its lower COE it is very workable, but you have to work with it in a hotter temperature flame than the flame you need for Moretti. Hence, I can't use my little tanks of yellow Mapp gas to work it - I need real oxygen and acetylene tanks which unfortunately have not been in my budget.

So the bulk of the Europe pics are over. Though I still have a few Euro pics here and there that I will be sharing with you, I've been up to some new creative endeavors that I'll be posting - so stick around!


More Berlin


Some more Tacheles...the door to an artist's gallery.




At first I really didn't get this... especially that there was no question mark at the end of what I thought to be a question. It was just one of those things that I knew had enough value to merit a picture, but I just wasn't feeling the deeper meaning at the moment that I clicked the shutter button. Than I a wrote a poem for a prompt from 3WW (empty, highway & ignored) and found myself contemplating my present situation Today and asking 'how long is now?' and I got it. Now luckily I have the Berlin pic!


The Reichstag Parliment building. We waited on a two hour line to enter this building on a frigid day...I'm convinced it was the moment my resistance dropped beyond current repair!! Apparently, you haven't visited Berlin if you don't go to the Reichstag. I saw old postcard images of the fire that ravaged this building and its old dome. What you see now is a contemporary resurrection.

Here is a view of the Berlin wall you may not see often - A CHEWING GUM MOntage!!!
The last pic is part of the Berlin wall located at the East Side Gallery. I loved that car busting through the wall!

Street Art in Berlin, Tacheles & Andras Bartos


Gregg making a rubbing of a manhole in Berlin. You may think why? Well, that rubbing is an excellent image for us to make our OWN silk-screen in order to make our OWN Berlin t-shirts, instead of buying mass produced touristy ones! Once we have our t-shirts made - I'll post them here for you all to see.


Some of the best gummy bears I have ever eaten in my whole life were from Potsdam, Berlin. They actually tasted as though they were made with real fruit juice - not to mention they were mammoth in size.


Berlin's mascot/national-animal is the bear - hence we saw lots of artist renditions of the form. Like these! Since these particular bears were in the lobby of our hotel - they 'embody' paintings of all the popular tourist attractions in the area.



Now for another kind of street art...see that building- that is the Kunsthaus Tacheles. If you look closely you can see the name of the building written on it.
Tacheles is not so simple to describe, although the tourist's books try to do it justice. It is a counter-culture artist space. A former department store, it now looks like an abandoned building that has been taken over by a self-organized collective of artists. There are studio spaces, a cafe, cinema, performance space, workshops and exhibition space. In the evening it is a night club. The grounds, hallways and ever architectural feature has had an artistic mark placed on it. There are stunning sculptures out back, in addition to surrounding buildings used as canvases. I was so enthralled I took so many pics. SAdly, we saw many petitions out while we there and upon returning have learned that the lease runs out this year - it seems that the future of this space is yet to be determined. For the 'creatives' out there that read my blog, this is sure to be a treat.


Here I am out in back of Tacheles in their sculpture garden. I love charging bulls so when I saw this I knew I had to have a pic with it! There were quite a few welded- sculptures out back that were beautiful in their execution. There was also a train, automobile and helicopter covered in graffiti.


Here is Gregg out back in front of the helicopter


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This is Gregg in the Tacheles hallway. Now you see what I mean about every iota of the space having a mark on it.

The surrounding buildings are used like mammoth canvases. This soccer mural below is mind-blowing. Click on the thumbnail to see the soccer image up close.


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Gregg and I discovered these small paintings by painter and graphic designer Andras Bartos and we bought one! His paintings are whimsical and also somber takes on humanity. While walking around the neighborhood we also saw his studio.

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Well, I have more images but I think is this enough for today. I hope I haven't drowned you all in visual noise!!





The remnants of the Berlin Wall and an old watch tower on top of what is now a hotel/casino.

In my opinion Berlin must be the graffiti capitol of the world. As an artist, I was mesmerized by the sheer passion of expression. How anyone can say that they don't see art in these images is beyond me. I will let the images speak for themselves.


A clothing boutique. Imagine this kind of sign-age.