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Las Vegas artist, Diane Bush to show at MEM Festival at Bilbao, Spain

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

'Make A Merkin Great Again': Artist Diane Bush

Diane Bush served for many years as a supervisor for Clark County Parks and Recreation, but like most of the Las Vegas cultural scene, her life and work connects our community to a world beyond our borders.

At 18, Bush emigrated to England because of the Vietnam War. After 10 years of perfecting her black and white documentary street photography, she returned to Buffalo. Bush earned an M.F.A. from S.U.N.Y. Afterwards she worked as a photographer at local TV affiliates while pursuing her art.

Bush worked as Photography Department Coordinator at Villa Maria College for 6 years. While her students won prizes, Bush won awards from Kodak, Polaroid, Nikon, etc. Bush has exhibited / published locally, nationally, and internationally.

Diane Bush, Visual Artist.

Once in Las Vegas, Bush received 18 grants and a fellowship awards from the Nevada Arts Council. Bush’s 2006 monograph, WARHEADS satirizes news censorship of the Iraqi War. Her latest work, a spin-off called “ImBLEACHments” has morphed into performance work, using video, fiber art and photography. Currently, her USA ARTIST PROJECT, “The Big Cover Up” is seeking funds to distribute warm art blankets to the Occupiers across the country. Diane Bush is a member of the Las Vegas Artists Guild.

Bush shared with Eat More Art Vegas about her recent project, "Make A Merkin Great Again," travels to be a part of the MEM Experimental Arts Festival in Bilbao, Spain later this year.

"In 2016 I spent 11 months ensuring Trump would not win the election and also trying to establish my name and brand in Las Vegas...the project, "Dishing it Out-2016" involved monthly exhibits and performances, while new voters were registered, and issues were discussed. Even though Trump got into the White House, we registered a fair number of voters, Nevada was still "blue" and my brand improved somewhat."

'Make A Merkin Great Again': Artist Diane Bush

"Now that another election year was looming, and I had recovered from a strenuous and expensive 2016, I knew that the coming election season meant I needed to become artistically and politically active again, with a new project. I had thought about using my pussy-cat's fur, to reference the president's "pussy-grabbing" quote, and I had begun spinning her fur ( with a hand spindle), with ideas about knitting hand-cuffs, or chokers, but when I asked my clever husband what he suggested, he thought a minute and said "Make a Merkin Great Again". He had to remind me what a merkin was...I recognized the word but had forgotten its meaning. I did some research and found that these wigs were used as early as the 1400s, when sex workers would shave to prevent lice, or when the loss of hair signaled venereal disease, and one wanted to appear normal and healthy."

'Make A Merkin Great Again': Artist Diane Bush

"I wanted the works to be pretty, so I added red, white, and blue ribbons to the yarn, to show my patriotism. The finished merkins are then framed in veteran flag frames that I spray paint red, white, or blue."

'Make A Merkin Great Again': Artist Diane Bush

"When the L.A. Yarn Bombers invited me to show my merkins at a sexual diversity festival in Hollywood, L.A., I created a long string of merkin pendants, that I wrapped around the tree I was assigned, and made extra merkins without cat fur, to "pad out" the piece, until more cat fur could be obtained. The installation was extremely well received."

'Make A Merkin Great Again': Artist Diane Bush

"Now the pendants ( and I) are traveling to Bilbao, Spain, to be included in a show of female artists, as part of the MEM Experimental Arts Festival, a 15-year-old annual event."

MEM is an annual cultural festival celebrating local and international electronic, extreme and experimental acts. MEM festival happens in November in Bilbao (Basque Country ­ Spain). There you can find dance, theatre, music, environment art, video, film, net-art, performance, readings, master classes and a lot of fun. MEM support transgressor projects in a moment in which creation don¹t take many risks. MEM combine high technology with a counter-culture view, punk heritage, "do it yourself", and thought and criticism. MEM state a Bilbao between two worlds, a reminiscence of industrial pollution and a new Bilbao of the information era and new technologies. MEM combine international and local views, looking for a fruitful dialogue among all different participant artists. MEM show aggressive and experimental projects that other festivals hardly hold in, but it¹s hardly valued the conceptual reflection, artists meetings and ludic moments.

Diane Bush is one of many local, independent Las Vegas artists and arts organizations who continue a positive tradition of service as cultural ambassadors to fellow artists, potential visitors, and community leaders around the world.


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