Westercon 57 Konkopelli Arizona   native american kopelli logo

Welcome to the "WesterCon 57" bodypainting webpage.  This bodypainting was part of the annual science fiction convention WesterCon, which originated way back in 1948.  Each July 4th weekend, this event is held in different "west coast" cities and this year's event came to the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield, Arizona.  My live bodypainting demonstration took place on Friday night starting at roughly 8:30 p.m. 

The theme of this year's event was "Mythology of the Southwest" so I set my sites on doing a bodypainting centered around Native American culture and artwork.  As I began my research, I was reminded that one of the models that I had previously worked with had Native American ancestry.  Her name is Myla Leigh Chenoa and she and I had worked together on the Arizona Flag bodypainting that was eventually featured in Facepainting International Magazine.  Since that time Myla has been gaining a lot of notoriety as an actress as well as an established model and has starred in two recent films named "Stalked" and "A Shadow in the Woods".  For more info about her and to see her modeling portfolio, you are encouraged to visit her website at www.MylaLeighChenoa.com .

Having lived here in the southwest for about 10 years now, I have become pretty familiar with the art of the Navajo, Hopi, and Apache tribes.  Myla, however, is related to the Algonquin tribes of the northeastern part of the United States and Canada.  I started researching their artwork and found it to be very different than the southwestern Native American styles.  The Algonquin use very bright colors and their designs are much bolder.  I found it very difficult to find very many examples of their artwork on-line though.  One common trait that I found in most of the Algonquin ceremonial costumes was the use of facial war paint.  It was interesting to note that there were no two face paintings alike in all of the images that I found.  I chose a face war paint design for Myla that captured the essence of many that I had found.  

Algonquin war paint face

Another feature that I wanted to incorporate was the use of a henna tattoo style of body adornment.  For this I wrapped a snake around her arm loosely based on a henna design.  Of course the central image painted on her chest was a typical thunderbird from Native art works of numerous tribes.  In keeping with the Algonquin's taste for bright colors, the face was painted red, the bird purple, the snake decorated with orange and yellow, and it was all topped off with four feathers painted blue and white.  My initial vision of Myla's bodypainting would have had her topless except for the paint, but she came up with a hand made fringed top and matching skirt that worked really well with the painting.  Other props that we used to set the scene were a blanket and some pottery from the Wigwam lobby.

Algonquin art and bodypainting

After completing the painting in front of an audience of about 20 people, we stepped out onto a landscaped terrace to do the photoshoot.  Renown photographer Jim Goodwin was gracious enough to donate his time and talent to shooting this project.  Although the photoshoot went wonderfully, Jim fell on some bad luck on his way to the Wigwam when his car ran over some angle iron that had fallen off of a truck on the highway.  He not only blew his tire, but the wheel also came off.  Around 10:00pm I went to pick him up and bring him back to the resort to photograph Myla.  Later that night I returned him to his car and it was nearly 3:00 in the morning when we were waiting for a tow truck to arrive.  I am thankful that everything turned out O.K. and I truly appreciate the time and effort that both Myla and Jim gave to this project.

The following day I served on a panel that demonstrated the use of airbrushes in fantasy art.  Also on the panel were artists Sue Dawe, Evelyn Leeper, Meg Lambert, and Richard Enloe.  I also had the pleasure of attending an interview session by Evo Terra of the Dragon Page with the media guest of honor, Virginia Hey, the actress who plays the priestess and healer P'au Zotoh Zhaan on Farscape.  Here is a picture of her in her body paint for the Farscape set and a picture that I took of her at the convention.  She was a very charming Austrailian.

Actress Virginia Hey as Zhaan on Farscape  Austrailian actress Virginia Hey

According to the website, WesterCon was attended by nearly 750 people this year.  From my perspective, it looked like a good time was had by all.

If you are interested in ordering a print from this photoshoot or would like additional information on bodypainting, please feel free to contact [email protected] and visit my website at www.futureclassx.com .  Thanks for visiting!

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Unless noted otherwise, Photography and Artwork by Mark Greenawalt c2004.  All rights reserved.

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