Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to link up with the infamous NYC body painter Andy Golub to participate in his third annual NYC Bodypainting Day, a convergence of 100 fully nude models and 75 painters at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in Manhattan, which was held on July 9th. The whole purpose of the event is about freedom of expression and celebration of art. A day of joy for all who partake in it. Very rarely is a community event brought together in the art world, but Andy created Bodypainting Day three years ago because he found it important to make such a precious thing happen.
To publicize the day, Andy Golub asked me and Ben Moon to join him at Refinery 29 for a live broadcast Facebook event. Of course I hopped with glee on such a thing. Though that morning I barely made my train and had to park in the permit parking area of Goldens Bridge train station even though I wasn’t allowed. I simply had to take a chance because missing this train was unacceptable. This was the last one I could take to be on time for this shoot, and I was not going to be the one damn fool artist not to show up.
Below is the video of Facebook’s live broadcast on July 6th at Refinery 29. If you haven’t yet seen it, check it out!
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I was called in to paint. That’s what I do. So I really wasn’t entirely sure what was going on with the cameras because I was concentrating on painting. It felt very natural because I always have to talk to all the families on my line at my face painting tent as I’m creating magic on their darling children’s faces. No, I mean it. A lot of them are kinda cute. The kids, that is.
While busy in my palette, I did hear though what was being said by the host, Lucie Fink. Young and spunky, and so proud of her fellow co-workers for baring it all for the sake of art, she brought the conversation about bodypainting to life. When you’re in fine art school, one of the main areas you are evaluated on is your presentations of why you did what you did. So it was pretty cool just talking about our art again, like someone actually cared what we were thinking as we were creating it. Art is often done behind closed doors with no audience. So to know that we were able to share our time and creativity with a larger public was very cool, and I thanked Andy for the opportunity.
It was great to work with the Refinery29 crew who helped us bring the painting to life by being brave enough to lend us their skin to use as our canvases. Refinery29 began in 2005 with a mission to help people discover and refine their personal style. Now, eleven years later, they’ve grown to nearly 400 employees, have offices worldwide and publish over 2,000 stories a month, which is 36 issues of an average fashion magazine. Named the fastest growing media company in the US., with 25 million unique visitors per month on their website, over 175 million users across platforms, and over 2 million email subscribers, Refinery29 has created a truly global community. The office, which covers nearly the entire floor of an industrial building, is filled with young millennials tapping away at their devices, combing through social media networks and driving forward and onward in their mission. It’s a magnetic, festive environment, and so was the crew, and we all had a ball.
It was really great to work with Laura Delarato–she’s an amazing person and her outlook on the world is both inspirational and progressive. I found her confidence and beauty to be striking. She spoke a lot about body positivity, and I realized that is one of the main reasons I do what I do. Because no matter who you are, you probably don’t feel super confident being naked. But when a piece of art is created on something as intimate as your very skin, the fear of nudity disappears as the model becomes the ultimate work of art coming to life. And in my models allowing their bodies to be my canvas to help me express my creativity, they are offering me a gift. In the end, both the model and the artist both get something very special out of the experience.
They asked me, why the feathers? It’s because they have magical properties and when one learns to use them, as the shamans did in their journeys, one can steer the winds. So imagine such energy being painted on you.
I wanted to go with Native American elements, and I practiced on my friend, Nancy, the night before the shoot to play around with ideas. But when the wolf came to mind, I knew I could express myself, and Laura was the perfect canvas.
In Native American circles, the wolf totem animal reminds us that beyond being civilized creatures, we are still animals with our own wild spirit. He teaches us about our inner selves and helps us discover our own hidden power and stamina. A lone wolf in the wilderness embodies freedom, and in a pack, it embodies a feel of community. And both these embodiments are relevant to why I bodypaint in the first place.
I got to paint with NYC artist Ben Moon, too. Beyond being an avid musician and an amazing fine artist, Moon’s latest work explores the integration of sonic and visual elements, using a combination of projected visuals, interactive social media, as well as live, and pre-recorded music to create a a fully immersive environmental art piece. He met Andy while painting cars and they hit it off right away. Some pretty cool stuff of his you should check out at: www.worldofbenmoon.com.
All in all, it was a great experience and turned out to be one of their most watched broadcasts to date, with 130,994 views!! Now, there was just one thing left for me to do–prepare for Bodypainting Day!!
NYC’s 3rd Annual Bodypainting Day 2016:
So after all the publicity and the anticipation, Bodypainting Day on July 9th finally arrived, and I was just happy to have, once again, made the train on time. Had a blast painting with a great many amazing artists doing what we love to do! The theme was Inner Beauty. People really were wowed with the results of our long hard work that took 4 hours to create. Living, breathing pieces of art, the models got their chances to shine as they moved through the entire city atop a double decker bus. Us artists got to ride below and watch the reactions on everyone’s faces. We all participated in bringing live art to the public and involving them in the experience. And what a joy it was to see so many smiles!
A special thanks to Kat Kaplan for being an amazing model, and thanks to Mango Bango for documenting pictures of my progress!