Pour les enfants d’Haiti

April 14th, 2010

This project was initiated by writer and filmmaker Paul Lobo Portugés, as a donation to the organization Haiti Soleil, to save a demolished non-profit library in Port au Prince, building literacy amongst Haiti’s impoverished children who’ve suffered from the earthquake. The poster is a collaboration between photographer Dave Craige (picture of the child), Paul Lobo Portugés (poem) and me (artwork).


Mixed media: pencil drawing, photo (child, textures), photomanipulation and digital drawing

Stones from Heaven by Paul Lobo Portugés

“What crime what sin had those young hearts conceived
That lie bleeding torn on a mother’s breast…
The human race demands a word from God.”—Voltaire, ” Poem on the Lisbon Earthquake” (1775)

the flesh of the city blends its blood with the dust of earth’s grave
the devil quake broke the bones of their beds with its terrorist bomb
they could see the day light of death in the beaten air
feel it in their prayerful souls as the some time glad day sun fell
into forever’s darkness and all the all reeked with the ashes of fear
where is the loving God of married hallelujahs?

all the poor man’s houses falling falling “amid the deepening gloom”
into a tomb for sons of promise and green daughters
their pleasure and pain drowned in a ghost of tears
lost like raindrops on the grey face of the bottomless ocean
vanished like the passing shadows of stories in the imagination of clouds
why oh darkened God of stones God of the Word God of Heaven?

in the once bright light of a schoolyard’s promise silence now bleeds
where young eyes yesterday shouted from their books a belief in tomorrows
now the living dead carry their bodies with loving worms
on the gallows of their bent backs wander the veins of the beaten streets
chanting horror’s verbs black angels mourning the flesh of graves
where is the open hands of God the prodigal Father?

they lie down forever in the weather of their sorrow with the innocent dead
weep for the seed of their breathless children in the blood lit city of gospel sorrow
no glad to be home families no wined friends with hope’s holiday songs
no loving child’s prayers or whispered shut eye no sweet good nights
no these good soldiers of Jesus’ hosannas are the inspired blind no more
to the womb of endless night no to the forsaken God of their brambled loins

NOTE: If you are located in California (CA), don’t miss “A poetry reading for Haiti Soleil“, Sunday, April 18, 2010, at 7 p.m. in Hieronymus Lounge, Westmont College, Santa Barbara. The reading will include readings by Paul Lobo Portugés, as well as Chryss Yost, Sojourner Kinkade Rolle, Galicia and Starkey, Alice M. Scharper, Perie Longo and Barry Spacks. A suggested donation of $5 or more will raise funds for Haiti Soleil.

Walking differently but dreaming alike

March 23rd, 2010

People with disabilities often have to struggle to find their identity and fulfill their dreams and life goals. In fact most people, abled-bodied or not, struggle with the exact same thing all their life. Of course that struggle does get tougher if you have a physical disability. But people with disabilities just want the same thing that non disabled people want: fulfill their dreams.

Size: The original (digital file) is 90x80cm (35.4×31.5 inches)
Technique: mixed media (photo, pencil drawing, paper collage, photomanipulation)

Walking Differently but Dreaming Alike by Ina Mar
Walking Differently but Dreaming Alike by Ina Mar

The model, Anke-Maria Sander suffers from Friedreich’s Ataxia, a degenerative, genetic, neuro-muscular disease, for which there is no cure. She uses a wheelchair since she was 15. Anke is my inspiration and consultant for this disability awareness series.

P.S. Sometimes abled-bodied people need details of suffering, in order to recognize disability. I portray disability in a way that it is not directly visible. The girl is not IN the wheelchair, I don’t show her deformed legs or any of the barriers she confronts every day. I do this in purpose. I don’t think I have to satisfy people’s need for horror scenes in order to accomplish more understanding for people with disabilities.

New artwork: Routine Heartbreak

January 15th, 2010

Ina Mar, Routine Heartbreaks, 2010, Mixed Media

The girl offers her heart to the black jaguar.
The black jaguar replies: “Use that emotion for something useful – create some art!”
The girl has collected each one of her previously broken hearts in its own jar of formalin. Under the shelf where the jars are placed, the viewer can read the girl’s thoughts: “How many more heartbreaks on the shelf of my life? When will I ever learn?”

Colour palette: dark red, crimson, salmon, gold, yellow, black
Size of the original (digital file): 35.4 in x 27.6 in (90×70cm)
Technique: paper collage, photomanipulation and digital painting, using multiple textures from my own photo stock

Making of “Routine Heartbreak”

Here are some preliminary sketches of the artwork, as well as a short description of my procedure, for those who are interested to see how I create those effects.


Picture 1 of 6

  • A normal photo is taken after a particular pose. The background is not completely neutral, but I use some of the elements and shadings for the final image, instead of a supplementary texture. The panther is added later. Both figures are progressively improved.
  • Several elements are provisorily placed on the photo, namely the 8 jars of formalin containing the hearts (taken from a vintage drawing) as well as  textures from 6 Egon Schiele’s paintings and drawings (skin, dress, hair etc, see below in the chapter “Textures and Material”).
  • Textures and shades are added in the background to give the yellow tones and that Pompei wall effect. I later added a pink gradient behind the girl, to highlight the hair and body contours.
  • The girl’s dress is painted red. The Egon Schiele fragments are adjusted in a way to fit together: same skin tones everywhere, even though the skin comes from 3 different paintings; the passage from one fragment to another must be invisible. The hands have rather red tones, because they are holding the heart. I removed the Egon Schiele mouth and eyes, because they expressed arrogance rather than pain.
  • I made some slight changes to the jars of formalin and hearts so they don’t all seem alike (regularity is not always a virtue).
  • The outlines are improved, for example the neck part, the face. I added a black contour to the girl and a red contour to the panther. Later I put a red “halo” both to the panther and the girl.
  • The text of the girl is handwritten and scanned, then integrated into the image. The panther’s text is a collage of letters from an old note (I like that handwritting).
  • I improve / paint / highlight many details. I make slight changes to the textures, namely removing the dark parts from the face, hands and legs, so that the skin is clearer and brighter.
  • At the end, I made the girl’s left foot visible, so that a self-evident sexual interpretation of the encounter is excluded (the panther is not between her legs).

Textures and material of “Routine Heartbreak”

The black jaguar is a photo from my stock, taken in the Mexico City Zoo. The girl’s skin, hair and clothing are a mixture of fragments from 6 different Egon Schiele paintings and drawings I discovered during my latest travel to Vienna, complemented with some digitally painted parts:

  • The girl’s dress  was taken from the sheets in “Embrace” (1917), Österreichische Galerie, Vienna. The  texture of the girl’s hair was taken from the same painting.
  • Parts of the face were taken from Egon Schiele’s nude self-portrait (1911), Leopold Museum, Vienna
  • The girl’s neck and the upper part of her dress were taken from Schiele’s “Devotion” (1913), Leopold Museum, Vienna
  • The girl’s legs and arms were taken from Egon Schiele’s “Blind Mother” (1914), Leopold Museum, Vienna
  • The girl’s right hand was taken from Egon Schiele’s “Erwin von Graff” portrait (1910), private collection.
  • The girl’s left hand was taken from the baby in Egon Schiele’s “Dead Mother” (1910), Leopold Museum, Vienna.

Left to right, top to bottom: “Blind Mother”, “Devotion”, “Dead Mother”, “Erwin von Graff”, “Embrace”, “Nude Self-Portrait” by Egon Schiele

Happy 2010!

January 1st, 2010

I wish you all a happy and creative new year!

New artwork: Don’t let your emotions spread out!

December 28th, 2009

Dont let your emotions spread out! by Ina Mar
Dont let your emotions spread out! by Ina Mar, mixed media, 2009

The peacock and the businessman, a one-sided love affair.

The peacock attempts to impress the businessman and says: I could name 100 things you are to me. I’d like to spread out my feathers if you’d like me to. The businessman replies: I think you are 100 times more in touch with your own feelings than I am.

The peacock’s reflected black and white feather patterns on the businessman’s shirt refer to empathy. Empathy means understanding and being sensitive to the feelings and thoughts of another – here the businessman is sensitive to the peacock’s feelings, despite his verbal reaction.
The red cheaks and red highlights on the businessman’s face and shirt, as well as on the leaves, refer to projection, or more specifically the imaginative projection of the peacock’s subjective state (he is in love and emotionally wounded) into the object of his love (the man), so that the man appears to be infused with it.

The businessman is a mixture of:

  • Egon Schiele’s self-portrait with lowered head, 1912 (see below)
  • bits of the shirt of Albert Paris von Gütersloh by Egon Schiele, 1918 (see below)
  • the horrible graduation tie of a friend, in blue variation (better than the original)
  • many digitally painted or repainted / highlighted details

egon-shiele-portrait-with-lowered-head schiele-albert-paris-von-gütersloh

I took the picture of the peacock (used for this artwork) on Lokrum Island in Croatia, in the Adriatic Sea. Peacocks wander everywhere on this island – they are actually the only inhabitants, as Lokrum is a Nature Reserve!


The artwork texture is mainly a mixture of (1) Valcamonica prehistoric rock drawings, (2) Nepal paper, (3 dirty knife and (4) Cuban sea colours, with (5) some hand-painted details, shades and lights.

Colour palette: The palette is this time quite “realistic”, blues, greens, white, black and some pomegranate red
Size of the original (digital file): 39.4 in x 27.5 in (100×70cm)
Technique: photomanipulation and digital drawing

empathy. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved December 28, 2009, from Dictionary.com website:

‘For the sake of a single poem’ by Rainer Maria Rilke

December 28th, 2009

For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, but it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open windows and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Seasons of emotions

December 23rd, 2009

This is a new little series of surrealities. The atypical encounters of two characters, an ugly young boy and his zoomorph friend or companion (male or female, the viewer may decide). The palette is rather “shouting“, as an allusion to a dream or hallucinatory world.

Through zoomorphism, colour contrasts and textual contrasts, the images allude to the lack of communication or non reciprocity in an emotional level between human beings.

The technique is a mixture of paper collage, pencil drawing, digital photo, photomanipulation and digital painting. The final artworks are in digital form.
Tiger Dream by Ina Mar
Tiger Dream by Ina Mar, mixed media, 2009

Description: The young boy and his companion experience their first encounter and first metamorphosis of this series. The zoomorph male/female companion (tiger) wakes up and sees the boy lying on his/her bed, his head slightly leaned to the back, showing his uncovered neck. The tiger carefully takes his neck into his mouth. The tiger’s spoken words are written over his head while the boy’s intime thoughts are written inside his head. The tiger does not bite or hurt the boy, even though the boy expesses the wish to be aggressed. A sleeping child inside the boy’s head (reference to Egon Schiele) and the words “still a kid deep in his soul” allude to innocence. The image is contrasting innocence and gentleness to erotism and agressivity.
Colour palette
: The palette contains “agressive” colours: mostly blood red, deep orange, black and saturated yellow.
ize of the original: 19.7 in x 15.7 in (50x40cm)
Season of emotions: Summer,
passion/energy and something at it’s peak

Sweet Unreciprocity by Ina Mar
Sweet Unreciprocity by Ina Mar, mixed media, 2009

Description: The kitty – the only “warm” element in a cold, blue palette – is in love with the boy and delves itself into emotionalities, saying: “I brought you a blue rose. I am laying it at your feet”. The young boy (reference to Egon Schiele’s “Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern and Fruits”, 1912) is arrogantly smoking, turning his back to the kitty and uttering: “Cool down kitty. It’s december. Love is in its winter rest”. There’s a contrast between emotionality (kitty) and cool rationality (boy).
Colour palette: dark blue, teal blue, turquoise, indigo, deep red, black
Size of the original: 29.5 in x 19.7 in (75x50cm).
Season of emotions: Winter, coldness and
a time of rest from the cycle of growth and bloom

Chameleon Dream by Ina Mar
Chameleon Dream by Ina Mar, mixed media, 2009

Description: The male figure is a reference to Egon Schiele’s “Levitation” (1915). It’s the moment just after he wakes up and he is still in his bed, telling his zoomorph companion about one of his dreams, where he was obliged to redecorate his chameleons’ tanks again and again, because the chameleons kept changing colours. In order to show understanding, the companion transforms itself into a red iguana (and not a chameleon – because iguanas don’t have a color-changing ability to blend in with their surroundings – which is what frustrated the man).
Colour palette:  deep greens, deep reds and black
Size of the original: 35.4 in x 27.6 in (90x70cm)
Season of emotions: Spring, change (and the fear of change)

Unintentionally Is My Specialty by Ina Mar
Unintentionally Is My Specialty by Ina Mar, mixed media, 2009

Description: “Unintentionally is my specialty” is an allegory of the artist (depicted as butterfly) and his companion (reference to an Egon Schiele figure). The boy touches slightly the butterfly’s delicate wings and they tear accidentally. He says “Unintentionally is my specialty”. The butterfly consoles the boy and takes comfort in saying “Suffering is my muse”.
The delicate wings represent the emotional sensibility of the artist: a capacity to respond to aesthetic and emotional stimuli and use them as “material” to create, but at the same time a liability to be affected by external influences and to feel hurt.
Colour palette: golden yellow, rust orange and brown tones. I used a mixture of byzantine icon colours and roman frescoe texture.
Size of the original: 35.4 in x 27.6 in (90x70cm)
Season of emotions: Autumn, maturation and approaching death

Work in project: Waiting for a phantasy

December 7th, 2009

Waiting for a Phantasy (sketch) by Ina Mar, mixed media (photo, objet trouvé, collage, photomanipulation, digital painting, writing), 2009, Series surREALITIES

This one’s about waiting. About the fatal identity of the one who waits for a promised (or hoped for) sign, waiting for a proof of feelings, hoping for silent communication, without reciprocity. Sense of time, sense of proportions, sense of reality are lost. There is a scenography of waiting: the one who waits defines the place of the waiting, manipulates facts, makes suppositions, provokes their own thoughts, defines their own ways of acting and reacting, that escalate to anxiety and abandonment. Truths are confused with fantasies and wishes. The delay of the other is analyzed and at the same time the one who waits is brainstorming, having a mixture of unimportant and substantial thoughts, which are described in a detailed way in the background text (written by me).
In fact what I am publishing here is just a sketch, I’m still struggling with improving some details, refining some contours, hand-writing/scanning/integrating the text. I tried to give this work an abstract and an African-wall-hanging look.



For the texture, I used:

  • a crincled, irregularly scissor-cut photocopy of a woman’s abstract body by Picasso (see image)
  • a scanned knife (see image). I had just cut cheese with the knife, so it was a bit dirty and had fingerprints. That created a nice structure on the image. (It was French cheese – I hope you’ll still buy my artwork when it’s finished)

New artwork: Drowning in your ocean

December 6th, 2009

OK here’s the latest artwork, “Drowning in your ocean”, a girl lying in the bottom of an imaginary ocean: Sleeping? Dreaming? Dead? Immobilized by depression? You may interpret it as you like.

She has become one with this environment. Woman and ocean are a unity in the dimensionality of an imaginary space. There is a correspondence between the inside and the outside. A sea turtle, a fish, sand and seaweed have become encrusted into her body. The body is the very ocean itself, and the ocean is at the heart of her flesh.

The two horses on bottom right symbolize borderline situations between phantasy and reality and their mariage.

Drowning in Your Ocean by Ina Mar
Drowning in Your Ocean by Ina Mar, November 2009, Series surREALITIES

Mixed media, mainly photomanipulation and digital painting

Following poem titled “Your Absence” goes with the artwork:

Your absence – too long – I cannot move
anesthetic through my numb and empty heart
now I  wake from a coma
see visions of you
those Words we couldn’t mumble
that Warmth we couldn’t share

I’m dazzled by the nudity
of your soul set free
a boundless ocean for me to
glide and gleam like a silverfish
You set me moving again
I’m becoming iridescent
golden hues, silver hues
my eyes can’t rest in your ocean
wherever i swim, i’m lost
wherever i dive, i drown
so deep and dark it is

(Text by Ina Mar, adapted by Damian Bullen)

Britain’s Missing Top Model is missing some key points

December 3rd, 2009

I was reading this article by Alessandra Stanley, “Disabled, and Seeking Acceptance in Fashion” (Published: December 1, 2009), about “Britain’s Missing Top Model”, a reality show on BBC America, that pits disabled women against one another to compete for a photo spread. I was absolutely appalled by two quotes:

First stupid quote – powered by stupid people:

Mr. Phang says to a photographer, “It’s kind of nice working with deaf girls because there’s not those sort of irritating questions.”

I thought I had an eye problem and had to read it again and again, until I was convinced: yes, he really said that! yes, they published it too! yes, he is still a public person! If you can’t deal with the disability of a person, just ignore it, step on it, make fun of it, use their disability to profit at their expense! Hurray!

Dear Mr. Jonathan Phang, is it that she can’t bother you with irritating questions, or is it rather that you don’t bother listening to her, or don’t know sign language? Mr. Phan, you just gained a solid place in the disabled community! You have two disabilities: your enormous imbecility and your uncomparable insensitivity! I am just wondering something, Mr. Phang: Every disability has their advantages. If the deaf model, Kelly Moody can’t be bothered with your irritating fashion nonsense-advice, she can just discretely turn off her hearing aid (oh yes!  can you “shut down” the models’ irritating questions? nope!). And I love going shopping with my friend Anke, because I don’t have to carry anything, I just put everything on her lap or hang it on the wheelchair! That’s so practical… So what’s the advantage of your intellectual disability, Mr. Phang? It must have some advantage… Feel free to twit me the answer @Ina_Mar

Second stupid quote – powered by stupid people:

Rebecca’s disability didn’t cause me any problems,” a photographer says after shooting Rebecca, 27, a stunning brunette who was born with a deformed hip and wears a prosthetic leg. “It was just the fact she’s not really in shape. Most models are pretty toned, slimmer, more agile.”

This reminded me of what this disabled friend, Anke, once experienced. A model agency refused her application. Because of her disability, they reasoned, she would much more easily get tired and would not be able to handle the stress of the job. Yes that is true. Anke has the Friedreich Ataxia and sometimes the physical limitations of the progressively handicapping neuromuscular degeneration of this genetic disease turn simple everyday cirmustances to … just tiring ones. But why are they comparing her to an abled-bodied model? I’d love to quote Disability Bitch here, a disabled BBC journalist: “It’s not just that I’m lazy, although I am, it’s that it takes me all the energy I can muster to wobble to my local coffee shop on the end of my walking stick. The fact I can only go such a short distance before collapsing into the nearest sofa demanding painkillers, does not make me a lesser person than the ones who drag themselves up mountains. I know what I can and can’t do and I know how to not do it in style.” (Disability Bitch hates disabled mountain climbers, BBC, 22nd October 2009).

Dear “Britain’s Missing Top Model”, dear photographer who pronounced these words, please decide: What are these girls? Where do they belong? Are they models? Are they able-bodied models? Are they disabled models? Are they beautiful disabled girls? Are they just girls representing the beauty of disability? Set the rules of the game. Then judge them according to those  rules.

If they are disabled AND models, “toned, slim, agile”, why aren’t they in the normal model show?
If you’re not judging them as “models”, but rather use them to raise disability awareness, then you can’t expect from every girl in wheelchair to be “agile”. Some are, some are not. You can’t expect from every deaf girl to speak absolutely clearly in front of the camera. You can’t expect from every girl with amputated legs to walk elegantly on high heels. Some can, some are still trying to, some cannot.

Did you create this show to prove that disabled girls can be skinny too? Or to prove that disabled girls can be beautiful, sexy, witty, successful, and that they should follow their dreams?

Did you create this show to prove that the modelling industry is not so closed and narrow minded? I don’t know if that aim is succeeded… Where are the fat models? Or just the normal ones? The unconventionally beautiful ones? Those that don’t follow today’s unrealistic beauty standards? There are some stunningly beautiful disabled girls who might not be able to roll their own wheelchair, or walk without their assistance dog, or reply to journalists’ questions. Where are they? Were they “too much” for the general public?

Why do you call them “missing” models? Call them “models with missing parts” or “models with missing abilities”, but the girls are not the ones who are missing! They are in wheelchairs, on prosthetic legs, blind, wearing cochlear implants, but they’re out there and living!