We had the good fortune of connecting with Danica Marlin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danica, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
In any form of creative work challenging decisions are often at play. Because of my health history and struggles with fertile processes, the works I make are innately personal. I continually have the difficult decision to share personal and emotional imagery with the public through my platform as a visual artist. Naturally, I have insecurities in holding this issue up to the public eye, but I know there is power in difficult conversations. Having long suffered from irregular and even at times life-threatening menstrual cycles, I have been told time after time that it will be difficult if not impossible for me to become pregnant. I view my work as a fertility process in all aspects pertaining first to our original environment—the womb, and our final environment—the earth. The imagery I use is zygotic in nature, referring to zygotes, gametes, seeds eggs and spores. Each work or composition helps me to better understand and accept my body’s existing shortcomings and potentially serves as a way for others with similar circumstances to exercise those feelings as well. The duality of my work, reflecting both on bodily fertility and fertility of the land relieves myself from the implied expectation of reproduction in our culture. While initially emotional in nature, the work I make still manages to celebrate fertility beyond the body as a reminder that we are more than what we produce.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Finding my way as a visual artist has been full of twists and turns. I would describe my journey for the most part as intuitive, but certainly not easy. As a sculptor there are so many materials and mediums to explore and each material and skill has come with time and practice. Though I would hardly say I have mastered any one skill, each process has brought something unique to the table. When making a work I have an idea in my mind, a sketch on my desk often before I know what material and processes I will use–wood, metals, ceramics, casting, welding, 3D modeling, etc.–the options sometimes complicate the process but have potential to yield unique couplings through variation. Something I am so excited about is the upcoming research and travel grant opportunity I have been awarded through Arizona State University. I applied for the Nathan Cummings Travel Grant with intention of using the funds for a research expedition to the Madre Selva Biological Station on the Amazon River. After travel restrictions are lifted, I will be able to use these funds to study the unique Amazonian plants with a special focus on plants which reproduce despite extreme conditions in their environment. I will connect with local guides, work to learn from the experiences of the native Yagua Peoples and collaborate with the scientists at the station for aid in investigating this unique ecosystem and practices of restoration. From here I foresee heaps of inspiration evolving into tangible work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many unique places to explore here in the valley. I am a personal fan of the Larry for their unique culinary options (their location next to Grant Street Studios and the Bentley Gallery is a definite plus), Butcher Jones Recreation site is a must for the most beautiful hikes around, and in normal times, 365 days of live music at the Lost Leaf is a go to. Other notable places to check out are the Desert Botanical Gardens (everyone should see the rare crested cactus they have on site), Cornish Pasty because who doesn’t love a gourmet hot pocket, and of course the First Friday art walk.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am incredibly fortunate to have continuous support from my family. Since childhood, my parents Tamara and Blaine Marlin, and my Grandmother Helen-Louise Chitty, have placed an importance on creative thinking and expression for which I am so thankful. I would not be involved in the Arts the way I am if it were not for their continued encouragement. Thank you for telling me I can even when I have had my doubts.