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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 new paintings (5)


New Art, Ink Paintings in Tonalli Exhibit in Arnold, Maryland

If you're following the new art and saw the blog post before this one, you'll see that the last painting I posted (My Lepidoptera Heart) is my 'Air' piece in my new Earth, Air, Water and Fire series. Since many of you can't get to the Maryland exhibit I'm showing all the pieces here in a reveal.

The next piece I'm revealing is the Earth piece, entitled, Esurio the Latin word meaning 'to hunger'.

Esurio by m.diaz 22x30 Ink Painting and Mixed Media Esurio Detail 22x30 Mixed Media Esurio Wolf Detail 22x30 ink painting & mixed media hope you're enjoying the reveal,

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!


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!!


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.


Stained Bedroom Sheets


The ReCuentos Exhibit in San Antonio, Texas has come to a close and the work has returned home to me. I can't tell you how bizarre, yet intimate this body of work is to me since it was very experimental. I allowed myself the freedom to work in an unorthodoz manner, dripping and marking white sheets with stains with which to form imagery out of. I played with the literal and metaphorical meaning of life leaving stains, both in phyisical places as well as on our hearts.

In addition, this body of paintings is deeply representative of a connection I made with another artist, Nova Gutierrez. After viewing her paintings inspired by the tragically abbreviated life of her aunt Lisa, I responded with my stained bedsheets series. Lisa was killed by her husband 30 years ago and the scars of that crime run passionately and deep in Nova's family and life. Lisa's life has not been in vein and Nova responds to the beacon of educating young women on the perils of domestic violence and the relationship patterns and signs to be watchful over. Needless to say, I answer a similar calling in championing self-esteem in young women and being a column of support for survivors of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse). Nova's paintings made references to the elements: Fire, Earth, Air & Water. I inturned responded with my bedsheets stains in the same elemental vein.


To see all the pieces I made for this exhibit click on ReCuentos in my portfolios.

The sheets are now back home representing the extraordinary power of not only living to me, but of thriving as well.Let me know what you think of the work!