ARTS: Local mulitmedia artist to be featured at HopeLink’s Art with a Heart fundraising event Feb. 27
– Robin Slonina doesn’t want for things to keep her busy. The Las Vegas – based multimedia artist divides her professional time running the largest body painting studio in the nation – Skin City Studio (1800 Industrial Road, Suite 130, Las Vegas), opening a satellite space for her other art projects (in January, in the Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas) and devoting time and energy to select charity events, including the upcoming Art with a Heart fundraiser in February . Not to mention producing the Game Show Network’s popular television series “Skin Wars”.
iH spoke with Slonina and Skin City Studio assistant Judy Desiderio to discuss their art and participation in the event.
iH: How did you become involved with Art with a Heart?
Slonina: At Skin City, we are very community-minded and get requests from charity events at least once a week. We can’t say yes to everything, but Judy really pitched for this particular organization and I felt how passionate she was about it.
iH: Do you have any concept yet for the event body painting?
Slonina: It is a chance for Judy to spread her wings as an artist because she is going to create the body paint design that I will be painting onto her. It is an honor to be able to paint one of her very first designs.
Desiderio: I am the type of artist that visually takes in everything from everyday life and if there is something I like I will save that detail as a memory, then I connect it with something else I may see later on. Not to give anything away yet, but I have in mind to show a heart drawn in the middle and hands of different races and ethnicities reaching in and putting this heart together. It speaks to the theme of this organization and that’s what I am leaning toward.
iH: How challenging is it to conceptualize a design on the three dimensional form of a body?
Desiderio: Three to four hours is average, but if there is more detail, obviously it is going to take more time, up to six or eight hours. I was painted for the first time this year. And I am not the kind of person that likes to flaunt myself in public. But once, when I was on a job as an artist, a model did not show up and we needed a model. So I thought about it and decided to step in, so for that day I was able to experience what it is like to be on the other side. Physically, the paint feels like you are wearing a layer of silk, a really light veil draped around you. That experience has benefited me as an artist, definitely.
We know this person (the model) is coming to you and trusting you with their whole physical being and their mental state of being as well. So there is a trust, and an excitement. Many of our models have never done body painting before, they are nervous and excited and they see the efforts you are making to make something beautiful. I think every person is beautiful and that is something all artists share.
Slonina: We get such a variety of private clients at Skin City, a variety of ages, from 21 to…we just painted somebody who was 68. And a variety, too, of self-consciousness from people allowing us to use their bodies as a canvas. We are very accepting of all body types and as artists we see beauty in all human forms. And I think our models can feel that.
There is nothing more rewarding than that final moment where there is that reveal when they see themselves in the mirror for the first time. That look of joy that spreads across their faces to see themselves as a piece of art, to watch that is so exciting and rewarding for all of us.
We did a video project (choreographed by Benoit Beaufils and Ross Gibson) that was really special, it is called Everybody Equal. We put out a very limited call and we had about 60 people show up – all shapes, all sizes, all walks of life.
We all painted each other and lay down in the shape of a huge equal sign on this huge white canvas. It was a project to celebrate marriage equality and beyond that, radical body acceptance.
iH: How do you view the connection to your body painting and your other fine art?
Slonina: More and more I find my worlds colliding, in terms of applying more of my fine art aesthetic to body painting. Initially (body painting)was my business and now it is all merging. I am making a personal jump and opening a satellite studio in the Arts Factory for my own art. It has been very separate up until now, but that separation is definitely narrowing.
iH: Do you feel that barrier between what has traditionally considered fine art and commercial or populist art is beginning to dissolve?
Desiderio: Definitely. Body painting has always fascinated the public to see, but times have progressed and what is considered fine art, what you would see in galleries or museums, has expanded to include works from street artists and body artists. I think the reason why these art forms are becoming more widely accepted is because people are connecting with them.
Slonina: There is also the whole movement – called Low Brow – which has spread all over the country, taking street art, tattoo art and elevating it to the walls and pedestals of galleries and museums. I feel it is one of the most prominent movements of our generation.
iH: You are optimistic about the future of the arts in Las Vegas?
Slonina: I absolutely love the Las Vegas arts community. It is very small and growing, but I feel there is a lot of grassroots support and it is a very inclusive community. People are very happy for one another’s success as opposed to jealous or competitive, which I find wonderful. It is exciting to watch all these businesses pop up and the Arts District Council grow and create more activities and events.
Desiderio: I feel one of the reasons the arts community has been expanding of late is because my friend Dana Anderson who created ISI (Industry Supporting Industry). He is on a mission to expand the art community, not just in Vegas, but outside as well.
iH: How hard is it to balance time between business and art?
Slonina: It is definitely very challenging to balance all the roles in my life. I am a wife, a mother, an artist, and I also run the largest body painting business in the country, so I feel the danger of burnout is always there. Recently I have been making a very active effort to re-prioritize and give more emphasis to my fine art – whether that’s body painting, sculpture, performance, or an exciting hybrid of all of those art forms together. I’m still learning to delegate and attempting to release a lot of my business responsibilities as well. | iH
This piece was featured on page 20 of the January 2016 issue of Inside Henderson Magazine.