Freedom with Rich Diltz
Internationally recognized body painter and airbrush artist, Rich Diltz, captivates his audiences with his detailed transformations of the human body. Fascinated by the interactions between art and humanity, Diltz’s favorite pieces are the ones that are more than just beautiful. They must tell a story and make the viewers feel genuine emotions. In this work, called Chipping Away, a woman chisels away at the gray stone that covers her in the hopes of freeing herself from what she has become.
Flecks of sparkling monochrome colors decorate the matte gray covering the woman’s body; she has been made into a beautiful statue. Perhaps her artificial exterior was a consequence of her own desires. It is possible that she was forced to transform into a statue by societal standards that prompted her to become domesticated and demure. Regardless, being a statue made her as strong as the stone covering her body. She could perfectly assimilate with the world around her without any vulnerability, but this stone fortress is cold and emotionless. There is no freedom to love or to be happy. By becoming someone she is not, she loses herself and her humanity.
Meticulously, the woman works to free herself from what she has become. To rush her metamorphosis into the truest version of herself could mean driving the chisel into her flesh, and could mean death. She is susceptible to devastating failure because she has the freedom to take chances and make her own decisions. Diltz wants us to understand that without vulnerability and freedom we are without our humanity. In spite of the ease that comes with conforming to society or living complacently, we must be willing to attempt to be true to ourselves in order to experience our humanity at the fullest.
What do you think about this piece?
It looks actually like the other way: she is trying to get rid of her humanity! If you look at the details, the colored (human) layer seems on TOP the grey core.
Max, that was not my intention…but I can see how you might see it that way. I have never heard this interpretation before. It is a great pleasure to me that people might see my work and see in it things that I had never intended and yet which might be True.
That’s a pretty cool observation! I really enjoyed reading this article and the art is so beautiful.
This piece is so interesting. I admire the calm determination of the woman in her task of embodying her true self and discarding past constraints.
I think the first time I saw this photo was in 2007. I have it saved on every device I have owned since. I would love to have it tattooed on my back. It really ‘speaks’ to me.
Jen, I love hearing that my work has inspired others. The piece was created at the end of 2001. If you ever do get that tattoo, I would love to see it!
I am honored that you love this piece so much, and that it speaks to you.
Alyssa, I like to travel around the net now and then and see how far this piece has gotten and what is being said with it or about it. I don’t know if you ever interviewed me or not…but you obviously understand me…”Diltz wants us to understand that without vulnerability and freedom we are without our humanity.” I’m not even sure I understood that at the time… it was probably something that was (at the time) and still is bubbling up from my unconscious.