Talk about an impressive body of work. For artist Ariana Page Russell, a skin condition called dermatographia resulted in an unexpected art form and even more surprising canvas. The condition causes the capillaries in her skin to dilate and welts to appear as a result of even the lightest scratching. In her art, Russell showcases photos of intricate redhued temporary tattoos, inspired by etchings made directly onto her skin. Russell, who has been using her skin in her artwork since 2005, also makes a skinlike wallpaper based on photographs of her body’s response to the etched designs. The artist recently moved to New York from Seattle, where she received her M.F.A. in photography from the University of Washington. “I’m interested in how different surfaces can be decorated similarly and the fashion of skin,” says Russell. “At first I was ashamed of my condition, but I decided to take advantage and make use of it. I’m at the point now where I think it’s beautiful.” A solo show of Russell’s work, titled Dressing, is currently on view until May 16 at Magnan Projects at 317 10th Avenue in New York City.
This story first appeared in the April 10, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.