By: In Her Shoes Contributor, Sallome Hralima
As women of the world, we all know something about makeup – and not the kind with lip locking and apologies. From watching grandmas, mommas, aunties, big sisters, and upper class girls, to trying our own hand at applying liquid eyeliner or precariously gluing lashes, we each have a relationship to one of the oldest forms of artistry. Most In Her Shoes readers have carried a MAC product or two (or three!) in their purses, many have stepped into the makeup superstore Sephora to test-drive a lip color, and a good number have flipped through a Sam Fine book for techniques or inspiration. And while we have attempted to replicate the angular application of Grace Jones’ make-up and the African-inspired designs of Les Nubians, few have taken the time to study the artists responsible for transforming our favorite women into goddesses.
Meet Risha Rox. She is the mastermind behind a number of Brooklyn performing artists’ new personas. While many of us shy away from drawing too much attention to ourselves, Rox is bringing forth a new appreciation for body art and a resurgence of make-up as a prominent form of self-expression for the everyday woman.
She enters the Brooklyn coffee shop for this interview rocking a red bandana, lace top with animal print underneath, ripped skinny jeans and fly kicks. Beyond beautifully sculpted eyebrows her make-up is minimal, her smile is big and her hug is familiar.
In Her Shoes: First off, outside of your being outlandishly creative with the brushes and pencils, you also have a unique fashion sense. What would you say is a more important first impression, having a strikingly made up face or donning notable attire?
Risha Rox: I think they are both massively important in making a first impression. What bodies and faces have in common is that for every individual, there are certain advantages and in turn, there are limitations. The individual touch, taste and finesse with which we address the physical cards we’ve been dealt says a lot about us. I think we’ve all had the experience of being totally captivated by a stranger who may not be the most beautiful, but is inspiring and artful in their personal presentation.
In Her Shoes: Who would you say (that readers would know) inspires you with their personal presentation time and time again?
Rox: Bjork because she is gorgeously outlandish, whacky, and best of all she effortlessly nudges the mind toward the otherworldly.
In Her Shoes: A lot of your work is what we could call otherworldly. What is the source of this ever-present alternate reality we see in your art?
Rox: One of my primary intentions as an artist is to draw back the veil between worlds. My intention is to interact with the viewer’s subconscious, because that is where the magic, the mystery, and the deepest opportunities for evolution reside. My intention is to blur the line between waking life and the dream state.
In Her Shoes: What is a day like in your shoes?
Rox: A day in my shoes is ever changing, but they all begin in the same way. As soon as I wake, I give thanks for a beautiful life and then, before the hustle and noise begin, I check in on how I feel. Once my day begins, I put on a comfortable pair of shoes and step into the mist. I refer to it as the mist because I seldom know what the day will bring; generally, some heady cocktail of emotion, spirit, art, grind and fun.
In Her Shoes: In your personal art history, you have the traditional start with pencil to paper, sketching and illustrating. What led to you crossing the line from two to three dimensions? And, what challenges, if any have you found in that transition?
Rox: The first time I actively engaged the human body as canvas was as a tattoo artist. It was an amazing experience, but I found myself repelled by the violence and permanence of the process. Makeup allows me the human canvas, but is ephemeral – which I enjoy. There is a mingled pain and beauty in the fact that my creations always inevitably go down the drain. It helps to remind me that the wellspring of creativity is bottomless. It’s interesting because the airbrush machine I use as a makeup artist is quite similar to the one I used as a tattoo artist. Only now, instead of repeatedly stabbing the flesh to deposit color, I deliver pigments in a glimmering mist that my models actually tend to enjoy.
In Her Shoes: With so much more for you to share from this bottomless wellspring, what do you think is the next level of expansion for your makeup artistry?
Rox: Thus far, people have responded to my work on an image-by-image basis. My next step will be to connect the dots for my audience, introducing thematic elements I’ve actually been working with since day one. I have a few series in the works, and there are two in particular that will be ready for presentation within the year. It is important for me, as an artist, to have a message and my next step will definitely be a clear communication thereof.
Be sure to check out Rox’s first solo exhibition HAIL MARY, on Friday, August 12, 2011, at Blink located at 856 Atlantic Avenue (btwn Clinton & Vanderbilt), Brooklyn, New York. RSVP to email@example.com. To see more of her amazing work visit: www.risharox.com.