Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Marissa's Work: Meet Azmera

Growing up, I was a comic book fiend. I couldn't get enough X-Men, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, you name it. I lived for the harrowing tales of super-powered people. Storm was my idol, and at recess, while many of my girlfriends were outside playing jump rope, I was trading comic cards with the boys. I never got over my love of comics, my palate just became a bit more sophisticated over the years and I fell in love with indie titles like Love and Rockets, Strangers in Paradise, and Non.

Comic book art has always influenced my own creations (my first drawing lesson came courtesy of the book How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way ) and that love of comics came full circle with the creation of my own heroine, Azmera.

Azmera is part Storm, part Angela Davis, part Ma'at. She's a powerful and fierce warrior-goddess charged with doing something amazing for her people: healing the wounds of history through time travel. She's been given magical powers to make things happen and transform the world, and in the process mend her own broken heart. Azmera's name is Ethiopian and it means "harvest". I chose this name because in this era, at this point in history, we are finally starting to see the fruits of our ancestors' toil and reap the rewards.

I've been painting, drawing, and writing about Azmera for a little over 2 years now. I don't have set things I do with the character yet, I simply let her appear in my work. I've written a story for her, which I've been encouraged to turn into an illustrated book, and I like the idea, so I may do it at some point. Right now, we're still getting to know one another.

The Azmera pieces also present an opportunity to play with a theme that I've been developing throughout most of my work: blending psychedelic beauty and color with harsh realities. I relate it to the 1960s, a decade that has always fascinated me: there was the summer of love, Woodstock, all this beautiful art, music, and exploration. But at the same time, we had Black people in the south getting hosed with water and attacked by dogs, the assasinations of Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers, and the war in Vietnam. The coexistence of that beauty and violence fascinates me. I strive to create work that walks that razor's edge, exploding with color, joy, and sadness.

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