While most people can’t effectively apply paint to canvas, New York-based artist Trina Merry expertly paints entire bodies to melt into some of the most iconic backdrops in the world.
Inspired by the likes of Marina Abramović and Amanda Palmer, Merry blends performance artistry and a serious visual arts education just as seamlessly as she joins scene and subject.
“Painting on the body creates a special connection to a person that other visual art forms have trouble accomplishing; it’s a distinctly human experience,” she writes.
Although Merry has a fairly traditional artistic background (partly because bodypainting cannot be studied in art school), she’s committed herself to the atypical craft. If you ask her, there’s no art form more intrinsically human than the process of turning bodies into living, breathing canvases.
She lets inspiration come organically. As a globetrotting creator, Merry uses bodypainting to flesh out her relationship with the world.
“Where do I fit in as a woman in New York?” she writes. “When I set to create new work, I find myself in the middle of an exploration of a question or a challenge to myself.”
Merry’s work forces us to confront unfamiliarity in places that are embedded deeply within our cultural consciousness.
By camouflaging humans in front of scenic standbys, she punctuates what have become monotonous thoughts associated with each location.
“Each painting and following photograph,” she explains, “captures a moment of my thoughts in the moment of that subject.”
As viewers, we are presented with the opportunity to reimagine what has become familiar to us. As an artist, Merry is allowed to catalogue her literal and conceptual movements through life.
While hyper-eroticism is a media mainstay these days, this artist points out that her project does not aim to make an erotic statement.
“By no means is my work a sexual experience,” she writes, “so I find sexual experiences to be interesting responses to my work. The sexual experience ultimately becomes indicative of the viewers projecting their own fantasies, fears, or issues onto the fine art nude figure.”
But that doesn’t mean Merry fails to consider the roles that these nude figures play in her work. Every piece is part of a specific vision, and the artist meticulously selects people from numerous model requests to realize that vision.
For her sculptural series, Merry enlisted the help of muscular, highly athletic people. For a project focused on body positivity, the artist championed more diverse body types.
One of the most interesting facets of Merry’s artistic mission is that her work at once disrupts what we’ve become accustomed to in the art world while also celebrating one of the most ancient art forms in human history.