Artist Marina Fini On The Healing Power Of Her Otherworldly Dream Spaces
I got the chance to pick the colorful, California-based artist's brain about the healing power of her ethereal art installations and interactive performance spaces.
Meet Marina Fini: An incandescent artist, photographer, filmmaker, and jewelry designer, Marina is known for bringing fantasies to life in her vibrant, otherworldly dream spaces. With each immersive art installation constructed to be a realm of its own — a portal to an alternate dimension, if you will — this California-based multimedia artist's creations are truly one-of-a-kind. And that extends beyond her neon-lit art installations, as well; Marina makes each piece of whimsical plexiglass jewelry from her line by hand.
Marina's art exists in a realm of its own. Primarily, she combines stage design, photography, fashion, film, conceptual art, and healing on an energetic level. She's also a video and photo artist who empowers women by transforming her photographic subjects into fantastical, body-positive cyber goddesses. Her work has been featured at world-famous events and art galleries all over the country. Does Miami's Art Basel sound familiar?
For the past three and a half years, Marina's been busy — traveling the country to collaborate with some major players, starting with Art Basel. (More on that in a moment.) In the past year, she created an installation for Refinery29's 29 Rooms exhibit called the "Rainbow Voyage", a celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community on the 50th anniversary of the rainbow flag during Pride Month in San Francisco.
Marina recently collaborated with Dropbox and Genius on an LA-based installation called "Lyrics to Life," which was inspired by the iconic track, Creep by Radiohead. She also rents out her incredibly Instagrammable home studio space in Joshua Tree, California, which she refers to as the Rainbow House, for dreamy photoshoots, music video directing, set design work, and more. And yes, it's just as magical as it sounds.
I was so excited to get the chance to pick Marina's brain over the phone about the expressive, otherworldly multiverses she creates on a regular basis. We talked art, jewelry, crystals, the power of vibrant self-expression and body positivity, and the beauty of an inspiring, colorful, and intention-based space as a medium for healing trauma and fostering community. Most importantly, she opened up to me about where she is with her art now, and where she'd eventually like to be.
"My dad works in television, and I grew up in that world [in LA], and did acting and theater as a kid," Marina shared with me over the phone. "I started making my own videos in high school, and then everything kind of stemmed from there — creating my own fantasy world and narratives, and representing people that aren’t represented in media. Trying to create new narratives that empower people. I went to film school at [University of California in] Santa Cruz, and a lot of the theory classes I took were gender studies and queer studies, and that totally changed my whole perspective on our media reality. That’s something I’m really passionate about with my work."
Marina started out studying film and photography, then created a jewelry line on Etsy when she was 20 years old. "I started my jewelry business to help fund film projects and photo projects, and then that kind of became a full-time business," she explained.
"I started laser-cutting pieces when I was 22, at the beginning of 2012. I got obsessed with plexiglass. The vibrancy of it. I fell in such a deep plexi-lust, if you [want to call it], for the material." We shared a laugh as Marina described how, because she was one of the first jewelry designers to create large-scale earrings in the plexiglass medium, her work immediately became a hit.
"For me it was just creating all these shapes and symbols that meant a lot; it wasn’t about creating a trend at all. It’s definitely been a very long journey of trial and error and working with a very fragile medium. Especially as things get bigger and bigger with scale," she remarked.
After moving back to LA after college, her business continued to grow. Marina started shooting for fun — editorials, video projects, working with people she met in her hometown of Los Angeles. Around three and a half years ago, though, the desire to create larger-scale pieces inspired her to take the next step. "I want to create so much more with art than just wearables and photos. I want to put people in my sets and my ideas," Marina told me.
That's where Art Basel came in. Her first show, Motelscape at the Miami Princess Motel, was a sensual, illusory and hallucinogenic kind of commentary on creating an art show in an "underground", unexpected space — like in a seedy hotel, complete with themed rooms, heart-shaped hot tubs, heart-shaped beds, and all — as juxtaposed against the lavish exclusivity of Art Basel. "It was definitely a really beautiful way to introduce the world to a larger spectrum of what I want to offer," Marina spoke of the experience dreamily. "That show got written up a bunch, it was really special. And then I from there did another show at Art Basel two years ago called Goddessphere, which was a feminist strip club installation. It got shut down twice!"
Talk about making a statement. "They thought it was a real strip club," Marina continued.
"It was a conceptual art piece commentary on the state of sex workers being controlled by men, and what it would be like if a woman was in charge of a strip club. People had a response [to] these things; people felt community and really passionate about wanting to go to these things," she opened up.
"As a person who is really spiritual, I really wanted to find a deeper way to affect people on more than just an aesthetic level, or like, this is pretty, [it would make a] good photo. It’s so much deeper than just that from the surface."
And, as a practitioner of reiki and a believer in crystal healing, it really does go beyond the surface with Marina. "I became reiki attuned 2 years ago, and so I infuse reiki energy into my work. [Reiki] is basically energy healing, and vibrating love and positivity into objects and spaces," she revealed.
"You can put it into food; you can do long distance reiki. It’s a really powerful healing tool that’s helped thousands of people, and something that’s helped me in my life so much."
When she first started out with jewelry design, Marina incorporated another kind of energy healing in her art, as well — working with crystals like angel aura and rainbow titanium quartz, for instance.
"Something that has really helped me is grounding stones; working with obsidian and black tourmaline," she said. "Crystals that extract negative energy. A lot of us need work on our root chakra, especially women; a lot of our trauma is really concentrated on our root chakra."
She went on, "Crystal healing and integrating crystals with very colorful visuals as an aspect of my work is really important. I like that balance of aesthetic and organic reality. A lot of our reality, especially in cities, is very synthetic, and I think trying to marry the two is really important because it does exist — and [this is] not going to go away anytime soon. It’s about creating that bridge between worlds, [while] trying to be as sustainable as possible. Even though I do work in synthetic materials, I try my best to reuse things [when] possible."
Clearly, her work is very intention based. Marina also works to create new and body-positive narratives with her multimedia projects, empowering women by transforming her photographic subjects into ethereal alter-egos and elevated, fantasy versions of themselves — but refusing to imbue her models with grotesque amounts of Photoshop.
"I’m so about body positivity because it’s helped me accept myself for the first time in my life," she shared with me. "I want to empower other people, not just women, to feel okay — [to know] it’s okay that your body changes! You don’t have to look a certain way to be accepted and love yourself. I really try to embody [that] with my photography, and whatever video work I do is really just showing the rawness. Not doing hyper Photoshop, smoothing things out. These are real people."
She admitted, "I’m still working on accepting myself and being confident in front of the camera. It’s hard when there’s people judging you all the time. But I think when you’re able to defy them, and still feel confident, you change their perspective. It’s almost like they want to be right. They want to feel your pain. And when you show them that, No, I'm not going to let you hurt me, I’m beautiful, I’m fine the way I am, that shifts their consciousness."
Moving forward, Marina expressed that she can see herself creating permanent healing spaces to help people for the longterm, instead of continuing to travel and create installations on a project-by-project basis.
"I'd rather invest my time and energy into permanence; that reflects more sustainability and more power in creating healing for more and more people that can experience the immersion," she said.
Marina also dreams of creating a hybrid vegan restaurant and installation space in Joshua Tree. Her passion for feeding people — both on a physical level, and on a spiritual one, with her art — is infectious, radiating through her words as she shared her vision with me, even over the phone.
"I feel like creating an installation where you’re in this immersive space and then you get to eat in it. That's so cool to me," she gushed.
"And the other thing I want do out here is open up a permanent Goddessphere. A fem, queer-owned cabaret kind of thing, which could also be a venue for musicians to play at, with performative arts... It'd be such a diverse thing. There are all these things I want to do, and they’re all based on creating jobs and opportunity where I live," Marina said.
Additionally, she dreams of creating healing retreat centers, eventually branching out from Joshua Tree. She calls them her "Rainbow Healing immersion spaces."
Marina elaborated, "I want to do more with my work than just being like, This is my art and this is my art show. I want it to be powerful enough that it’s effecting change and bringing joy to people on a long term level. I love integrating other types of healers into the work that I want to do; sound therapy, and all sorts of other things that help people. I see doing the work here, first, right now — and then eventually expanding it into other places, for sure."
You can learn more about Marina's work, and stay in the loop in regards to her future projects, on her website. Follow her on Instagram @marinafini.
Interview has been condensed for clarity.