Before Marzipan Physics began wheatpasting her work throughout New York City, she was an extraterrestrial particle physicist from the planet Eupraxia. Um, let me rephrase. Before the Lower East Side-based street artist adopted the deliciously cosmic pseudonym as her own, she’d given it to the lead character in a comic she published in 2015. Drawing upon Japanese manga, Archie Comics, mid-century sci-fi, and ’70s glam rock, Marzipan (the artist, not her creation) developed a style and a protagonist that proved equally at home on the page, the canvas, and the walls of the city.
Marzipan (the extraterrestrial) stems partly from her creator’s desire to contribute to the too-scant cultural catalog of women in science, but her story’s shifting scale from the subatomic to the intergalactic also offers a means to process the chaos of life on Earth. “When I’m overwhelmed by all the craziness that’s going on in our world, when you think of it on a completely different level, that’s much more universal,” the artist explained. “It’s somehow calming and it just clears my head a little bit and allows me to escape.”
As she sought to define her artistic vision, there were other earthbound relics Marzipan needed to escape. “I was classically trained in college, you know, art major, drawing from life, doing Old Master copies,” she remembered. “It was an awesome education, but it took me a long time to shed that very traditional indoctrination and get where I am now.” The place she’s arrived at synchronizes an exuberant cacophony of influences, an overlapping Venn diagram of Buff Monster’s playfulness, Fafi’s self-possession, George Barbier’s bold sense of design, and Camille Rose Garcia’s cosmic energy.
Look, for example, at MP-033, a mixed-media piece from last year and one of my personal favorites. Echoing her nom de plume, the artist’s design brings a candied color palette to her sci-fi sensibilities. The Marzipan character lounges with some light reading—a treatise on radioactive substances—and sports a classic cartoon design that blends seamlessly with the background’s art deco curves. The outlines of stars and spaceships add to the piece’s alien energy.
It’s not always easy to find time to transcend the earthly plane, however. Marzipan has to balance her art career with her graphic design work and parenting her son. It’s a busy life, but it helps, she says, that her studio is conveniently located in the basement of her apartment building. While the work of creation can be isolating, she relishes the way street art puts her in immediate contact with her audience. “Doing murals was a huge thing for me because I’d never painted in front of people,” she said. “People will just walk by when you’re painting or they’ll ask you about what you’re doing. It’s just the coolest thing because you get to interact with people.”
Street art also demands a zen-like approach to her craft. “You have to be not as attached to it,” Marzipan said, comparing her murals and wheatpasting to her studio work. “It’s not permanent. It’s going to fade to the sun and the rain. People are going to write stuff over it. People are going to put stickers and people are going to paste over it.”
For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.
Join the fight to save local journalism by becoming a paid subscriber.