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Meet Marina Santana

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marina Santana.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have a small group of friends that I met as an undergrad many moons ago, and we are very open with each other. We talk about everything. We’ve seen each other naked. I recall one conversation about our bodies that transitioned into a conversation about genitalia. Hearing the uniqueness in each description was interesting but what sparked it for me was that the majority of the group spoke with a tone of self-consciousness. Even some words they chose in describing their genitalia were negative. Words like, “weird” and “strange.” It was either a negative description, or they had never seen their vulva! This was the moment when the seed of my idea began to grow.

I first started the work that I do now when I was an undergrad, so the studio was very communal and had plenty of foot traffic. Interestingly, when someone would see me making different body parts, I would receive a mixture of positive and negative responses that ranged from verbal to body language. Most people would look or stare from afar, “discreetly” talking to the person next to them. Who knows what those people said. Reactions have ranged from negative to positive, but I’ve learned not to let it get to me. If it gets people talking, good or bad, I am satisfied.

I wouldn’t be where I am with the support from friends and the sex-positive art community. It’s all about support. If you are financially able then, by all means, buy an art piece! Another big way to support is by attending open studios, art walks, and gallery openings; and not just my own, any local artist. If you can’t purchase a piece by the artist, even just telling them how much you like their work, either in person or via social media, is another way to show your support. I can’t express how much embracing technology is another way to help support the local arts community.

Writing about an artist’s work on your blog, sharing one of their pieces on social media, or re-tweeting their posts to your Twitter followers, you are helping to provide them with exposure, which is priceless. I genuinely hope that my work can start a meaningful discourse, educate about human sexuality, and most importantly, be empowered.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I personally believe that being a female artist is a huge challenge especially since it’s a male-dominated field. Women have been in the arts for decades, but only a small percentage are recognized or even represented in galleries and museums. If you want to know about gender inequity in contemporary galleries, I highly encourage you to check out the Gallery Tally which is Micol Hebron’s collaborative poster project.

There are so many artists going through similar situations. I want to send a message to everybody, not just women. Another challenge I face is juggling. By that, I mean most artists have to juggle all aspects of art. Art is very time-consuming on all levels. I’m constantly researching for inspiration. Through books, journals, music, film, learning new techniques, attending lectures, it is a beast that needs feeding regularly.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
My oeuvre focuses on how in Western society, sex is seen either as a taboo or a marketing ploy and I want to showcase that it can actually be a relatable and beautiful thing through my artwork. Even though all of our intimate experiences are unique, we empathize with them one way or another. That is why I share my experiences and thoughts into them.

I work in a myriad of materials from ceramics, plaster, body casting, metal, video, and even performance. Because of this, I’ve been particularly influenced by Craig Owens postmodern theory of the deconstruction of an idea or thought of society, to better critically analyze modern assumptions. From there, I create work that is a visual interpretation of this critical deconstruction and begin rebuilding, to create something that is not in stasis but rather changing, evolving, progressing for better or worse.

With Owens’s theories of allegory and postmodernism in combination with a personal narrative, I attempt to visualize contemporary society as a whole and its effects on the individual. I would like to see how the individual, in turn, affects the structure of the whole, how personal narratives add up to change and shape the overall structure. This also provides an opportunity for individual connection or interpretation of the piece.

This society that I am attracted to is Western media’s profound effect on people, particularly women, and the way that they perceive themselves, their bodies, and sex. I want to communicate with my viewers that they should not be shy with sex, art, and most importantly — themselves. Within the art department, if someone sees an art piece of a penis or vulva, they assume it’s my creation. So I guess that’s what I’m known for and it’s a compliment! haha

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto to go back in time, I would have started taking psychology classes sooner just to strengthen my oeuvre compared to where it is now. I’m currently collaborating with Dr. Pamela Regan through the Psychology department of CSULA, and it’s amazing! She is full of knowledge and an inspiration for what I do.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sierra Raine White

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Alvaro

    January 22, 2019 at 16:41

    Keep it up!

  2. Veronica

    January 23, 2019 at 20:58

    One of my all time favorite artists. Insanely talented, humble and thought provoking!

  3. Matthew

    January 23, 2019 at 21:25

    These are so cool! I really like that red print. It reminds me of a Rorschach test.

  4. Daniela Lomeli

    January 24, 2019 at 05:56

    So creative and unique. Marina , you are truly talented and one of a kind !!

  5. Daniela Lomeli

    January 25, 2019 at 18:51

    So creative and unique ! Marina, you are truly talented and one of a kind !

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