Marianna Peragallo is a Brazilian-American artist whose show on Buy Some Damn Art includes drawings from two of her simple yet mesmerizing series, Two Women and Braids. Below is an interview with the artist about this work and her approach as an artist.
1. What is your series Two Women about?
“Two Women” was inspired by a mentor of mine, so I thought of this series as an homage to her. Some of my works have the subtext of female relationships with other women or themselves. This piece documents a series of simple but intimate moments between the two women, like film stills. The two women are performing a ritual symbiotically in the first few drawings. They wash and brush their hair side by side and their hair braids together. Then one woman, presumably a more experienced woman, teaches the other to braid her hair. She is then able to do it on her own, and returns the favor to the woman who taught her. So there is an exchange happening between the women, a transfer of knowledge from one to the other. For BSDA we chose 6 drawings from the full series of 12. The last drawing (Two Women 6/6) shows one woman with her hair braided, which signifies the end of that cycle. The last drawing in the full series shows a woman undoing that braid, and re-starting the cycle.
2. Can you speak to the fact that the figures in your drawings have hair and arms but no faces?
Originally Two Women was a video, but I realized that having all the other visual context was distracting from the core of the work, which is the gesture of the women’s hands and their hair. When we reflect on memories, we often remember in fragments and specific moments. So the omission of their faces and bodies highlights the essential elements of the story.
3. What is the appeal for you of drawing, simply working with graphite on paper, in an age of so many other forms of media?
Drawing is so timeless, which makes it the best format for my conceptual interests right now. It’s one of the oldest way of communicating and making art, and it’s also very contemporary. Drawing is also such a tremendous pleasure and challenge for me, which is important. For some reason I used to think that I couldn’t draw, and now it’s such a big part of my practice.
4. You mention the longevity of drawings in your artist statement. Do you imagine your work will be viewed by people a hundred years from now?
That would be amazing! I like the idea of my drawings outliving me. But what I meant in my artist statement is that drawings in earthy materials like graphite and charcoal have a unique dual nature because they are erasable and can be smudged, yet those materials are so archival and can withstand hundreds of years. Surely paper can tear or yellow, and the drawing may fade a bit, but carbon based media is very resilient. Cave paintings, drawings, and letters from centuries ago have taught us so much about the world. It is incredible that they survived to tell the stories of their makers. So the longevity of drawing is more interesting to me as a concept because it creates a parallel between drawing and the function of memory. Memory can become faded, colored, or altered but the essence remains and gets passed on through stories.
5. You are originally from Brazil, lived in Philadelphia and now Brooklyn. Has location and local culture played into your art?
You are correct, I am from Brazil! My family moved around a lot for my dads job once we came to the states so I’ve lived in Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, upstate New York, Philly, and now New York City. I think my work responds to local cultures in subtle ways, but it’s not a focus. Moving frequently certainly informs my interest in memory, time, and the flexible boundaries of past, present, and future, and the mind’s ability to traverse and compress them. I suppose when you move around a lot, there can be a sense of displacement and nostalgia for people and places that are not a part of your present. Ultimately my recent drawings aim to simultaneously solidify a moment and emphasize the transience of time and memory.