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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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Entries in marisol diaz (43)


52 Chelsea Exhibit

My most recent gallery exhibit is opening this Thursday @ 2:00pm in the 2/20 Gallery in Chelsea, NYC.

Our Opening reception will be this Saturday, Sept. 20th from 6-8 pm. We'll have sangria, finger foods and MUSICA so if you're in the area - swing by!

So what's up with 52? Well fellow artist, Nova Gutierrez was motivated to stir up a mix of artists responses to a deck of 52 cards. Therefore each of the four artist in this show respond and investigate the probability of chance, risk and design that is involved with any kind of playing cards. I for one, really upped the ante and focused on some high risk illustration. Stay tuned to learn more!


Inspiring Artist - Sylvia Levenson

While I was taking the class at The Studio @ the Corning Museum of glass I got to visit the museum collection frequently. One of my favorite pieces (and there were many) was this piece by artist Sylvia Levenson.

It's Raining Knives by Sylvia Levenson

On of our class assignments was to seek out a piece from the glass collection to respond to via our own art work. As I get adjusted to moving out of NYC and deeper into the jaws of suburbia, and as I watch the continuing politics of fear immobilize people, I was deeply drawn to this sculpture. The title card also spoke volumes about our human exchange with fear.

For me, Sylvia's sculpture invokes the innocence of youth. The colorful houses and even the astro-turf are reminiscent of cloistered safety. The fact that she makes use of glass only adds to tenuous, fragile and volatile potential of the situation.

In my own work I am very drawn to the melancholy of loss, especially innocence lost. I had been feverishly illustrating a series of young girls in my sketchbook and was considering carefully composing them in a paper-doll fashion of sheets of glass. In addition I am very interested in stained glass, and really wanted to consider cutting my sheet glass into forms before I illustrated on them with the vitreous paint (this technique is explained in past post). I was inspired by the element of repetition as well. That is how my art pieces entitled Lost Girls was born.

detail of Lost Girls by marisol diaz

Lost Girls by marisol diaz

So with little time (for class was in its last three days) I cut sheet glass, painted and fired as many girls from my sketchbook and bunnies as I could. The scale is much smaller and less colorful than Levenson's work but the inspiration is there...in my way.

Lost Girls 2 detail by marisol diaz

More Sandblasted Glass from my time in Corning

Here are some sneak peeks at some more of my earlier sandblasted glass pieces from my time at the Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Since I am really interested in graphic design and illustration I really tried to combine these varied interests. Often glass surface treatment is not narrative, but more decorative in nature. However, the images that I developed for the surface manipulation was more personal with a definitive narrative, so my interest in illustration and graphic line really started to show up.

Popped Balloon by marisol diaz

With this particular image - the assignment was to blast a hole entirely through the glass...I couldn't see how I would do that in manner that made sense me, unless it was through a heart. This piece is actually slightly smaller (than the on screen size) in real life and that adds to its charm - at this scale and with the flatness of the photograph - it loses some of its graphic pop.

Paz by marisol diaz

This particular image is actually much larger than this image (8 1/2' x 11') and the assignment was to create variations in the blasting tones, such as gradations. Since I was coming up with my design ideas on the fly (with no preset plan) I was even surprised to see the imagery I formed, all of which had to be cut out with an exacto knife of a protective sheet (buttercut) in stages to blast (see the last post to understand buttercut).

Think With Your Head Not With Your Heart Fool by marisol diaz

This piece is done on 1/2inch thick glass which is lost with the photogragh...and was most time consuming since the size is around 10 by 10 inches. I also 'royally messed up' by packing the glass in my backpack one evening to work after 11pm and after riding my bike, hence the side of the glass with no protection got scratched (good lesson to learn) and so I had to lightly blast the front edges of the piece to compensate...some say you would never notice if I didn't tell (another lesson to learn).

Still, these pieces are from the first few days of class...after which my work began to evolve in quite a different direction which I will share with you all next...so stay tuned.


Guerilla Art and First GIVEAWAY!!!!


So thanks for waiting so patiently!!! The first monthly giveaway piece is ready to go!!! So here is how and why I am doing this giveaway of art (in this case A SIGNED PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT of a collage art piece that I made for Illustration Friday prompt; Forgotten. The collage you see above entitled 'Rainbirds'.)

Guerilla Art Kit by Keri Smith
I'm a big proponent of Guerilla Art (you may have seen the book in my suggested book list). In the way we often think of small random acts of kindness making the world a better place - with Guerilla art Keri Smith shares her vision of small random acts of ART making the world a better place. Often the art is 'anonymous' (which is a beautiful way to do something selflessly) for example: you're scanning a book or magazine in the bookstore and out between the pages falls a drawing left there purposely for you to find, keep or pass on...and you know not by who, such is the nature of Guerilla art.
I think those of us in the blogosphere can adopt this idea even if not anonymous, and I have already seen creative bloggers out there begin to do 'Giveaways' where the payment is not monetary, nor even an object of equal value, but instead the payment is made in an exchange of connection. Such was the case with my wonderful blogger friend BEATRIZ, a fellow artist living in Italy - her blog http://suitcase-contents.blogspot.com/, is listed under my favorite bloggers list and has already completed her first giveaway!!!

So here is how it is going to work. I will pick the receiver/winner of the photographic print on the Fourth of July through those who have left a comment!!! It will be my way of celebrating independence and I will choose the receiver/winner by reading through all the comments left for the print and seeing who left a comment that truly touched the answer to my comment question. So here is your comment question:

In this collage I use the parasol as a symbol of bidding fairwell...though goodbye's can be somber and difficult aspects of our lives - they can also be releasing and un-inhibiting, as well as a form of independence. This is why I entitled the piece Rainbirds...the rain has set her free - flight - birds...so what is your Freedom-Through-Goodbye story??

Leave me a comment and I will choose from among you - but if it becomes too difficult to choose I will use a random number generator to help me choose. You have from now to the fourth of July (which is over two weeks) to comment - please be sure to leave your email address with your comment so that I can contact you! I will announce the winner and their blog on the fourth of July post.


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!


The Three Graces - A Contemporary Revision

As part of showing pieces and parts form the Herstory exhibit, which you can find past post on through clicking on my blog archive, I am following the Judith and Holofernes post, up with the Three Graces based on the 16th century Raphael's version.

If you don't know Raphael's Three Graces here it is, but I encourage you to click on the link to read more about the source:1915508-1628696-thumbnail.jpg
The Three Graces by Raphael, 1501-1505


I really love the photograph I took, more than the painting I made, that doesn't always happen that way. Actually, this photo is one of my favorite in the series. That is due to the spontaneity of the altered composition.
The models from left to right are Crystal Fraser, Sadie Casamenti and Yeon Hee (Sophie) Kim. We began posing with a serious literal translation, and being silly between shots created this version when model Yeon Hee(Sophie) Kim chose to pretend to eat the apple. A you can see, we didn't have 'golden apples' (though some say that's what oranges were called at the time) and our middle model (Sadie Casamenti) didn't have one at all. That was something I chose to rectify in the painted version. Three Graces are the personification of grace and beauty and the attendants of several goddesses. I thought this NEW pose, to be so much more empowering than the original version and truly more contemporary in meaning (a play on feminist rhetoric to be taking a bite out of the fruit - the all time symbol of fertility) that it became the one shot I chose.


I struggled with the painting mainly due to my indecisiveness about the environment (at first I wanted them standing on a New Jersey overlook of the NYC skyline), but I changed that idea quickly. The flat background came after a visit to some Chelsea galleries and seeing some inspiring work that abolished that self-restricted notion of active, engaging composition. In addition, the environment I was working in at the time (my living room) provided a stimulating play on color for me. Ultimately, my time constraints for the opening of the exhibit got the better of me with this oil painting and I'm not sure I'm completely satisfied with the final results. Not to mention I made the process quite difficult for myself by strictly trying to capture a likeness of the models. Which I did as part of the original intent and mission of this project: to foster self-esteem in self-identified young women of color.


This painting is oil on wood


Marie Antoinette Inspired Collage


I'm getting ready to write another 'Inspiring Artist' Blog, but until I have all my facts straight I thought I would share another collage with you all!!! I did this one right after I returned from the Europe trip. It is directly related to the images, Laduree treats, color and Marie Antoinette Exhibit that I saw while I was in Paris (See past posts). I cannot tell you how relaxing collaging like this is!!

Soon I'll be putting prints of my collages up for sale on Etsy...but I've also been inspired by other creative bloggers to do GIVEAWAYS once a month of collage prints - so let me know if you would be interested in me- doing that kind of thing. I was thinking I would post the small artwork as Giveaway art, then choose a 'comment' to which I send the piece to FOR FREE!!!! I believe in exchanging too, so lets see how this goes! Anybody interested in me doing this??


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!


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.