Since 2008 Living Art America has been hosting art shows where the canvas on display is alive...literally! Body art is historical in its own right, Living Art America and The Chelko Foundation decided to team up and make it an art form that everyone is welcome to participate in. Now known as the North American Body Art Competition, Artists from all over the globe come to compete against one another in what is currently the only competition in the U.S. that is sanctioned by the World Body Painting Association.
When I learned about the event in late 2014, I really wanted to go for the experience but I wasn't able to get the time off of work and I honestly couldn't afford it. I had new and old painty friends who were going to compete, assist, watch and get involved in whatever way they could. I made the decision that I would be there in 2015 no matter what.
On our first night we went to the "Human Zoo" at a local club where all of the models were painted in jungle themed body paint. We had the opportunity to travel backstage to see the process where everyone was being painted under black light. What an amazing experience to see so many human bodies glowing like the moonlit sky. I even got a little paint action when the guy in front saw my very unique hair cut and decided to accentuate it with black light paint as well. Rio from season two of Skin Wars was hosting and overall the entire night was a blast.
I received a call the following morning asking if I would still be interested in being an assistant in the competition....ummmm yeah! The day of the competition I rode in with my roommate, Ren who I would ironically be competing against in a sense because I was assisting someone else in the emerging category. The day started quickly and we had approximately 6.5 hours to cover each of our models with a complete design. I would be lying if I said that this was a great experience. It was fast and competitive and grueling. I was not getting along well with the painter I was paired up with and our model was not feeling well at all. In my position as an assistant I understood that this was all a possibility but I signed up anyway for the experience. By the end of our time together we were exhausted and agitated but we had painted a beautiful piece. While our piece did not place, we did get a lot of good feedback. The sheer fact that I was able to assist in the competition was enough for me. Overall I am so glad to have had the opportunity to participate and learn.
When I boarded my flight in the beginning of October, 2015 I had no idea what was in store. I had arranged to stay at an airbnb with another painter Ren and her husband Keith who I'd met the year before at New York Body Painting Day. I wasn't a part of the competition and really was just going to network and see what the competition experience was like behind the scenes if I should be so lucky. A good friend put me in contact with the woman in charge of the competition just so I could let her know that I was available to assist if needed.
During our second night we attended The Body Art Cabaret which was presented by Enrapturing Entertainment. This happens to be the same organization that presented The Flesh Art Show in New Orleans earlier in the year. Naturally I applied to be a painter in the show but was declined because she didn't want to highlight the same artists in the same year. The show was nothing short of entertaining with performances by hula hoopers, acrobats, drag queens and even the live body paint wedding of Angela Rene Roberts and Cully Furmin who are both very well known in the body paint community.
I am still contemplating whether or not I will apply to compete this year in Atlanta. In the meantime I will continue to paint bodies, faces and whatever my lil' ol' heart desires. This journey is all about living with purpose on purpose. Maybe competition will wiggle it's way in to my repertoire. The sky is the limit...no it's not! The limits are whatever you believe them to be.