Marrus’ debut chronicles her artistic development through allegorical paintings and anecdotes of living life to the fullest.
In her bid “to become the lead character of my own story,” Marrus moved to New York City for a comic book apprenticeship, where she worked in a small animation studio, doing background inking for Valiant and serving as creative director for Gor graphic novels. All along, she struggled with loneliness and insecurity, resenting the “Hammer of Financial Rationality,” aka the fact that artists need day jobs. She spent two years becoming a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, but that was her last brush with the real world. Finally, she boldly decided to wear an “avatar”—an “idealized fantasy” of herself (thus dropping her first name)—and earn a living through art by taking pieces on the road to sell at Renaissance festivals, where she also does body painting. Her memoir cleverly intersperses diary entries, dreams, poems and photographs with humorous yarns, such as trying to toilet-train kittens and tan a deer hide in her tiny apartment. A self-deprecating tone still makes room for sincere words of encouragement: “Happiness comes from living life now, being aware of what you have that brings you joy and peace, and focusing on that.” Most pages also feature a sample of the author’s striking, symbolic artwork, sketches and full-color reproductions, many of chimeras and hybrid creatures, with motifs of eyes, lips, hands, feathers, deer, dogs, cats, carousels or circuses, as well as vaginal and phallic imagery. Her titles for chapters (“Hey, I Needed the Money”) and paintings (“Chainpigs”) are equally intriguing. The most arresting piece, “When the Crotch Rules the Mind in the Quoilyn Garden of Lust, Narrated,” is a Bosch-like nightmare of sex and madness. These more provocative aspects of Marrus’ work—including photographs of her seminude modeling and descriptions of experimentation with drugs and S&M—may alienate some readers. As Marrus admits, “traditional galleries haven’t known what to do with me,” for her works are “visual metaphors for things that are difficult to put into words.”
Stunning design combines with an edgy, inspirational life story; let us see more.