Artist Trina Merry just wants her work to blend in — and make a clear statement.
She’s been busy creating new images within the framework of exploring femininity juxtaposed with iconic buildings symbolic of power. Using body paint, she mixes her models into the landscape of her photos — recent images have included two women holding hands facing the Washington Monument, which was included in the Whitney Biennial, and two models intertwined in a bed of flowers near the White House.
“My series specifically in New York is all about this invisibility of femininity that takes place, and also gender equality because of the top free act,” Merry says. Her latest project in the series, camouflaging two models into the facade of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, was a reaction to the meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It started out as a piece that was going to be about women’s rights and it turned into this whole other thing in the context of what happened,” Merry says. “I am really upset about what happened with Trump and Putin, as are a lot of people across both party lines. The whole piece is about are we as Americans invisible to you?”
They certainty weren’t invisible to the Fifth Avenue afternoon weekend foot traffic.
“On the front side [of the models] I painted them Republican red and did a hashtag. Obviously they’re just going to be nude on the front, and people will stop just to take pictures of them in their pasties and underwear so instead we were like, let’s paint them red and give them a hashtag and start a conversation about what’s going on,” she says. “It got picked up and people were on Instagram doing a lot of chatting about what’s going on with Trump and Putin in regards to this art intervention piece. It was powerful, lots of conversation, more than I think normally takes place for just a little art piece,” she says. “When you have a president that is basically just communicating on social media, that becomes an interesting dialogue.”
Next up, the artist is planning to camouflage models on the steps of the Met Museum, a remark on the exclusion of great female artists from art institutions throughout history. “I’m choosing projects with intention, things that have really been sitting on my heart for the past year,” she says. “Remaining present with what’s going on in the moment and then just responding to that in real time….When you stand as a woman in opposition to marks of power, you’re going to have resistance of some sort, so that takes up an enormous amount of energy. At this point, it has to be meaningful and worth it.”
Merry has worked with Stacey Bendet on several projects, including an Alice + Olivia runway show, fifth anniversary party for the brand’s Tokyo store, and window design for Bloomingdale’s — with more likely to come.
“Our aesthetics sort of align, we’re both big lovers of Pop Art, but more deeply, I would say what Stacey and Alice + Olivia have stood for is empowering other women,” Merry says of the ongoing partnership. “And that’s something I’m deeply passionate about, working with other women and women empowering women instead of competing with each other. For me, it always makes sense.”