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Local Painter Danielle Muzina Discusses Her Work And Exhibit At PSAD

Danielle Muzina's "By My Mother's Blessing" is part of her Pink Apocalypse series.
Danielle Muzina
Danielle Muzina's "By My Mother's Blessing" is part of her Pink Apocalypse series.

Danielle Muzina's paintings focus on the intersection of gender with layered, ever-changing relationships to place. Through her paintings, she creates a fluid home, a fragmented whole that is open to both embracing literal and metaphorical patterns and restlessly breaking them apart. Muzina speaks to Austin Carter about her artistic process and upcoming exhibit and artist talk at the Paducah School of Art and Design.

In her most recent exhibit, Muzina has created "a series of paintings that envision heightened parallel worlds in which the sky and the environment are changing to pink or magenta tones, patterns are permeating the air. The women and nonbinary figures in the paintings are reckoning with personal and communal crises and conjure agency and collaborate amidst crisis and uncertainty."

"The paintings in which women are grappling with these incoming potential threats, or at least changes that could be positive or could not be, are sort of metaphors for all the uncertainty that we're facing in our fraught, contemporary world right now," Muzina continues. "My paintings also ask questions about gender performance and trauma, relationships, experiences of safety—the apocalyptic setting of the paintings gives me the freedom to ask more intense questions about survivorship in this series overall."

Another collection of Muzina's, "Pink Apocalypse," was first started in 2019 after Dr. Blasey-Ford's testimony, Muzina explains. "Since then, I've been giving myself more permission to explore these things. But even some of the things that were on the ballot in Kentucky this year—there are more and more subtle and intense issues that women are interfacing with in our political atmosphere right now that I'm responding to in the work. I feel more and more emboldened to address those issues in the work as time goes on."

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic distinctly shaped Muzina's art, too. "The works I was making before the pandemic were focused on the home and on domestic settings, gender performance, but more specifically within myself and my immediate family. When the pandemic hit, I started to see the home as the place with which our families and our home interfaced with the greater community."

"In the pandemic, these painting figures started stepping onto the precipice of the border between our homes and our communities and neighborhoods. Because then, we were thinking even more about how our actions and behaviors impact other people and how things within our environment impact our homes. I had a shift from more internally focused work to thinking about how myself and my family and loved ones interface with broader issues that face our world and our direct neighborhoods."

Many of Muzina's work feature layered imagery, which she explains is a reference to the layered natures of our senses of self. "When we're in one space, we're mentally in other spaces as well. Previous things that have happened to us or memories or connotations or repeated rituals that w have in that space are kind of haunting our experiences of the present."

"A lot of times, my paintings are interwoven with wherever we're situated. We're also carrying our past with us or the way that we feel within a space. It might not look exactly like this space we're currently seated in, but we still feel those people or moments or pressures existing in that space," Muzina says.

Daniella Muzina will give an artist lecture at the Paducah School of Art and Design on Thursday, November 17th, at 11:30 am. "Half of it will be in a lecture format, and half of it will be a gallery walkthrough. I'll go through some of my contemporary and art historical references."

Muzina says these references include poetry, pop culture, the history of lobotomy on women, the phenomena of stigmata, and religious paintings. The walkthrough serves to "contextualize my work with some other things, giving people an in-depth look at what my thought process and creative process is," Muzina concludes.

For more information on Danielle Muzina and her work, visit her website.

Austin Carter is a Murray State grad and has been involved with WKMS since he was in high school. Over the years he has been a producer for WKMS and has hosted several music shows, but now calls Morning Edition his home each weekday morning.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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