Exclusive First Look at San Francisco Bodypaint Series

Trina Merry, 'Painted Ladies, San Francisco (after Matisse 'Dance)', 2015. (Bodypaint and photo: Trina Merry)

Note: This post contains images of painted nude bodies.

Since relocating to New York City 18 months ago, San Jose native Trina Merry has made quite a splash with her Lost in Wonder bodypainting series. With paint, nude figures and perfectly angled photographs, Merry camouflages her subjects against renowned New York City landmarks.

The project sprung from a gallerist's advice: “If you’re going to make it in New York City, you have to shout from the rooftops that you’ve arrived. And you only get one shot at it.”

Trina Merry, 'Brooklyn-Bridge, New York City.' (Bodypaint and photography: Trina Merry)
Trina Merry, 'Brooklyn-Bridge, New York City.' (Bodypaint and photo: Trina Merry)
Trina Merry, 'Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (after Raphael, 'Three Graces'), 2015. (Bodypaint and photography: Trina Merry)
Trina Merry, 'Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (after Raphael, 'Three Graces')', 2015. (Bodypaint and photo: Trina Merry)
Trina Merry, 'Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco (after Manet 'Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe'), 2015. (Bodypaint and photo: Trina Merry)
Trina Merry, 'Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco (after Manet 'Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe'), 2015. (Bodypaint and photo: Trina Merry)
Trina Merry, 'Body Jail Wave Organ, San Francisco (after Boticelli 'Venus')', 2015. (Bodypaint and photo: Trina Merry)
Trina Merry, 'Body Jail Wave Organ, San Francisco (after Boticelli 'Venus')', 2015. (Bodypaint and photo: Trina Merry)

Honing her visual concepts and bodypainting techniques in San Jose from 2006 through 2013, Merry’s Art Alive exhibitions and installations typically involved teams of bodypainters and models all working together under her direction. But after relocating to New York and trying to survive on her art, she had to find a way to make a dynamic impression without resources and helpers.

“I started to think about what I could do by myself as simply as possible. I realized I needed to try to not fit into anything that was going on at all. I needed to pioneer something and what would ‘shouting’ look like to me in my art -- but doing it in a way that was me... not doing it in a way that would sacrifice my ethics of what I feel is important to me as an artist. What does ‘This is me making an impact’ look like? So I decided to paint one model into the iconic New York City skyline. Just me, one model, my paints and camera, and the hope we don’t get arrested today,” says Merry.

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The stunning result swept across local and national media, including features in Time Magazine, The New York Times and Good Morning America. Not one to rest on her laurels for very long,  Merry took this “I’ve arrived” momentum to launch a global series of on-site bodypainting at locations in the U.K., Ireland, China, Egypt, Turkey, Rome, Jordan, Chile, Peru and Mexico.

Merry recently returned home to the Bay Area to add San Francisco to her series. Aptly entitled San Francisco Series: Visions in the Fog, the locations include the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard St., the Palace of Fine Arts and Alcatraz.

In San Francisco, Merry arranged her models in homage to historic paintings by Botticelli, Raphael, Manet and Matisse, a response to her experience that the general populous of the U.S. is less appreciative of the nude form in art than residents of other countries on her tour.

When asked if bodypainting is about sex, Merry responds: “I don’t look at Michelangelo’s David and wonder if that is a sexual experience just because it is a fine art nude. None of my work is poignantly erotic so I find this to be an interesting response to my work and indicative of the viewer projecting their own fantasies, fears or issues onto the fine art nude figure.”

Merry is far from the end of this series. “Bodypaint is an ancient art form... the use of ochre on the skin dates back 425,000 years. I’ll be traveling to paint with indigenous cultures still practicing bodypaint later this year,” says Merry.

To see more images from the San Francisco Series: Visions in the Fog, visit trinamerryartist.com.

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