Marisa Companion

Artist Statements

Phases of Vitality 2017-2018

Phases of Vitality is about living with a brain tumor (cavernous malformation). I have been through various surgeries, including an installation of a shunt, strabismus, and removal of two tumors. This work looks beyond the factual events and channels the progression of self in the spotlight of a personal trauma. After not having issues with the tumor for a couple years, I decided to paint from photos I had taken at various stages of my illness. I projected my emotional state at each phase into the images. Color was used for an emphatic effect.
My work is influenced by Carl Jung’s theories, particularly, his theory of the “Shadow Self”. Jung’s “Shadow” is an elusive part of ego that one cannot always recognize in oneself. These self-portraits are my expedition to find the white rabbit.

Entrepreneur 2012-2014

Entrepreneur is about the independent American worker in the retail world of Los Angeles. The work consists of photographic portraiture of street venders, shop workers, and independent business owners in search of the “American Dream.” All of my subjects appear to meld into their work environment. My interest is capturing the dignity of working a job, be it a worker being paid minimum wage, an independent business person or an individual hustling sales on the street.

What drives my interest in this work stems from the respect I have for the American struggle. I am interested in portraying the strength of each subject through portraiture. While photographing, I take into consideration the pressure they have of projecting a business savvy attitude and stance. I am curious how the portrait of an individual in their work setting becomes an alias for their origin.

Quinceanera 2010-2014

A Quinceanera is the celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday in Latin American communities. The event signifies a girl’s transition to womanhood and is a sacred ceremony often involving Catholic mass with links to Aztec heritage.

The photographic body of Quinceanera, along with the short film Memory Park, centers on these ceremonies. The photographs explore femininity and coming of age narratives for young women in the Los Angeles area. The photographs are of girls during their Quinceanera along with family members and guests. Additional photos depict venues, attire and fashion shows. The blending of family and cultural tradition with gender performances are expressed in Quinceaera.

Various writings have influenced this body of work. One is Anne Sexton’s book of fractured fairy tales titled Transformations which features revisions of Cinderella and Snow White dealing with contemporary issues. The video Memory Park reminds the viewer of the wry humor in Sexton’s fractured tales showing the ragged edges of fantasies aspired to but not necessarily sustained. In Judith butler’s piece Performative Acts and Gender Constitutions, she makes a statement particularly applicable to this work: “….to be women to have to become women to compel the body to have to conform to a historical idea of women to induce the body to become a cultural sign.”

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