Artwork Spotlight

Artwork Spotlight: Danni Blackman’s i miss my body

In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. These works could range from short stories to visual art to music and more!

Today, Danni Blackman (she/they) will be sharing her work “i miss my body.” Before we delve into the art, a little more about Danni in her own words:

“Hello! My name is Danni and I am a self-taught visual artist. I have been working with acrylics on canvas for almost 6 years.

The journey towards my style started when I was 17. I had a random urge to paint and collected the supplies I could find from my childhood leftovers. The goal was to paint a landscape, but as the process continued along, I noticed I was falling for the palette more than the painting itself. I began using my canvas simultaneously as the palette ever since.

I listen to live or recorded music, envision colors, and allow the brush strokes to be led by my awkward dance moves. I enjoy embracing the nonsensical. Creating for the sake of creation creates freedom.”

In a Q&A with The Layered Onion, Danni expands further on her style and her piece:

What led you to art?

Art is a therapeutic and soul feeding activity. I grew up with art. My Dad’s family is very artistic in nature – lots of music and I also have a few aunts who are painters. Being an artist is inherited for me.

When I was 17, I needed to paint and went to paint a landscape, that didn’t turn out at all like I imagined.

After, I was gifted a record player. The first album I had was “The Bends” by Radiohead and I listened to that while painting for at least a year. I started focusing on the palette and was inspired. I started painting sounds, which to me matched brush strokes.

You have an interesting process with sound and visuals. Can you describe what that is like?

It’s very mind’s eye but also instantaneous. I can vividly picture what colors go with the melody and the feel. It feels like I’m able to capture the energy and the essence of the sound. Sometimes I do full albums and sometimes just 1-2 songs. I play the album on repeat until it ends up on paper. You can see this in “i miss my body.”

Danni Blackman, i miss my body. Mixed media, acrylics, and cloth. 2020.

What inspired you for the piece “i miss my body?

It started with an exercise book designed to get your creativity going. One of the thoughts was to paint or draw something that you know really well with your eyes closed. I painted my parents and I thought it looked cool but my Mom didn’t like it.

During that time I was gaining weight and going through an experience where I was just seeing myself changed. I didn’t feel like myself. I missed my body. The thought and feeling was in my headspace an unhealthy amount. With that in mind I painted over my mom’s face and painted the body in the piece. It reflected the disconnect that I felt between myself and my body. I didn’t feel connected.

I can’t help but ask – why hot pink for the upper right hand corner? Was it associated with sound? It keeps drawing my eye back in in a really interesting way as I try to see what I’m looking at.

That portion of the piece reflects the brain with a halo wrapped around it – the symbolism of losing my mind. This head is in the past because this body is gone. The brain was hard to paint and I hadn’t used hot pink yet so I incorporated it.

What mediums do you often use?

Acrylics are my favorite – they match my personality. They dry very quickly. They are adaptable and can be changed in many ways. Very versatile. I’m a very impatient person and watching paint dry is crazy making so I like how acrylics dry quickly.

I’m also getting into collage and starting to do mixed media. “i miss my body” has a choker necklace on the piece. 

I was inspired by an artist (whose name escapes me) who repurposed trash that she found and made it valuable by transforming it in art. I’ve been incorporating things like broken jewelry and film since 2014. I also make zines that include visual art, collages, and poetry.

Do you have themes that inspire your work or that you find particularly impactful?

I really get inspired by my spirituality. I’m agnostic but feel very spiritual and connected to nature. I paint a lot about lessons I’ve learned or am learning. I have a series called “The Almighty is non-binary.”

I tend to start my pieces in the middle and I’m not sure where it will end. As I keep going it makes more or more sense. My subconscious is telling a vivid story and I’m not supposed to know what the beginning is until I do.

Anything else about the work that you would want to share or say?

With this piece or any piece tied to weighted experience, the process and result of painting makes it more livable. It becomes something I can appreciate and it helps me accept the thought. “i miss my body” was a big seed of self-love that I planted – you’re worth it and lovable.

Something we can all relate and aspire to – a goal to better understand ourselves and own our experiences through our art or hobbies. Acceptance is hard, but to quote Danni, “you’re worth it and lovable.”

You can see more of Danni’s work on her Instagram @danniblackmaaan or on her website. Her website has a unique display of her art using models – I highly encourage you to check it out!