Scarlet Mann

When I first crossed through the doors of LAX fifteen years ago looking for a taste of real life, I relished the salty air, fancy cars, young-looking old faces, fast talking guys, and the beat of my thirsty heart.  I had just arrived in LA on a two week modeling assignment, going from small town fire light to city street neons and high-rise glamour.  Over the next few months, maybe even years, I often felt like a rubber band that was being tugged at from opposite ends- my beautiful home town & warm family life on one end and the embodiment of big-city life and the fiery mirage of my future on the other- crying because I knew I was never going back.  There was a sad vulnerability and a longing that I learned to accept, the price I would pay for growth.  

During this transition period, I had a feeling of being exposed, away from my home, like the nightmare of showing up to school naked, somehow not fitting in.  There was a continuous war in my mind that I was not good enough, cool enough, or interesting enough.  Soon I learned that "fashion" played an important role in claiming identity.  What I would buy and wear determined how cool or interesting I was.  I was masked and protected by my outside persona.  But there was always the next "new face" or better outfit.  Then, at one point, I landed a nude modeling job for celebrity photographer Greg Gorman. I had never posed nude before. This experience was very life changing for me. It was liberating. While posing, for once i wasn't judged for my clothing, my mockup.  I was just there, me, fully exposed, void of fashion, nothing to compete about.

LA Odyssey is a conceptual representation of this journey, ongoing, all in a city that never stops unfolding before our eyes.  A couple of years ago my son Ryder asked "Mommy, why do we have to wear clothing?".  I responded, "Because we don't want everyone to see us".  He replied, "Then why don't we wear clothes on our faces?".  I said, "hmmm, I'm not sure...".  Since that conversation, I've pondered the idea and applied it to my art.  While the nude body represents the vulnerability and liberation of being void of that veil of fashion, the mask covers up identity, the opposite of the way it is in current society.  

When the idea for LA Odyssey emerged, we were each given the opportunity to bring into reality our own individual perspective of the Los Angeles experience, within the guidelines of the series.  And, as we advance the project bringing the ideas to life, we see a lush collection of images where the masked nude becomes the norm in this quirky intimate peek into the City of Angels.  The variety of masks I choose to use is endless; however, gas masks are a prevalent token in my imagery to symbolize toxicity, whether it's a toxic state of mind that can come from comparing and competing in the material world, or a toxic environment that we so often fear in our children's futures.  Though I shoot a wide array of cityscapes, I intentionally utilize the many natural environments that prevail in and around LA.  From city-view hikes tucked away behind the LA River in Elysian Valley, to the Griffith Park awe, to the Santa Monica Mountains, it is in these havens scattered throughout the city where my heart and passion for Los Angeles lies.  I can always find peace and an escape there, transcending the metropolitan rat race.