Musing on Sensuality is a series where we sit down with people who inspire sensuality, and talk about how they cultivate it in their life and work. We hope this series to be a source of inspiration for readers to help cultivate their own daily sensuality. Sasha Mariana is an artist based in Wānaka, and shot our Sensuality Series Pt 2: The Artist, also pictured below.
Who are you? And how do you spend your time?
My name is Sasha Mariana. I am twenty-six and I am currently living in Wānaka. I'll be very forward in expressing that understanding who I am is something I'm slowly deciphering, haha. I know I am someone who is loud and quiet at the same time. I am someone who enjoys indulgence, and I am immensely stubborn but equally as sensitive. I'm a romantic. I'm an Indigenous woman with a rich culture I am only now coming to terms with. I am creative, imaginative, and meticulous in many aspects of my life.
I know I am an evolving woman with a deep affinity for creation and expression. I integrate my very uninhibited self with an array of artistic mediums, and these avenues of expression tend to reflect aspects of who I am at any given time. My art often mirrors the more complex facets of my relationship with myself. These facets surface in my sculpture, contemporary drawings, and written thoughts. With reflection, I feel I am very much my art and vice versa. Fittingly, I'm a work in progress.
What does sensuality mean to you? What does it feel like?
I believe sensuality exists for one's self. I consider that sensuality, at its finest, should feel fluid and unreserved. In its most significant and all-encompassing moments, it produces quite a profound feeling. It's as though my inner sense of self is beaming.
In many instances, I am conscious that the dynamic between my often busy mind and my sensitive, self-critical inner child tends to generate internal chaos. Simply put, I know I lack inner peace. Surrendering to sensual intuition facilitates a sense of pure pleasure because it intertwines so profoundly with the essence of who I am as a woman. This pleasure becomes my sensuality, and amid the noise, I can curate a state of mind where I feel tranquil.
Do you have any practices that help you cultivate sensuality on a daily basis?
Oh! Absolutely. Cue Bam Bam, Sister Nancy.
I appreciate an eclectic array of music. Whether it's Donna Summer, Orchestra Baobab, or Talking Heads, undoubtedly, music does this for me. It stimulates a rather raw and involuntary sense of sensuality. Without a shred of concern, I become fine-tuned with myself. I develop an awareness of my body and my movements in an environment. Clarity emerges in my emotions and my mentality. A complete sense of self unwinds in these moments.
Most notably, it's all unguarded. Feelings of bliss and liberation exist in not feeling compelled or obliged to minimise or subdue myself in a space. The sensuality I cultivate from these stimuli is so pure. I relish a good boogie and I enjoy feeling attuned to my own company.
Has your approach to it changed over time? How?
My approach has shifted, but that's because my understanding of sensuality has shifted. My younger self couldn't cultivate this because I wasn't conscious that it could be so self-acquired.
I understood sensuality to be something determined and substantiated by someone else. Since then, I have learnt to spend more time nurturing myself. I've become more acquainted with who I am in the present moment. I express myself more openly and perhaps with more intent, listening to my body and my own needs more. By doing so, I've become more interconnected with my sensuality, and my comfort in expressing it for myself, not someone else, reflects this awareness of change.
How does your way of relating to sensuality influence your artwork?
My art is quite feminine and often elaborate. So sensuality seems naturally integrated when I consider the work I produce. The recurring themes in my artworks often highlight a celebration of organic forms and silhouettes.
When I was younger, I drew the female figure with fascination and resounding respect. When I began to strip this back to develop my works, the details of the figure became diluted and insignificant in my observations. I refrained from drawing detailed representations of nude individuals. Instead, I carried the essence of the woman into my drawings and sculpture, paying close attention to the movements of my tools. I began creating works with soft edges that represent a tender demeanour. Curves that would mimic the silhouette of a hip, an inner thigh, or a full cheek that swells when a woman grins from ear to ear. I have become less influenced by societal portrayals of sensuality and more attuned to my own interpretation.
The photos you shot for our Sensuality Series pt 2 were so beautiful, and I understand your partner took these - what was the process like?
The process was bliss. It was intimate, carefree, and very collaborative. Communication was on point, and I had so much fun! From the beginning, I envisioned a portrayal of sensuality that felt natural, organic and concise to the viewer. I aspired for this shoot to reflect the empowerment of being vulnerable while also portraying a tenderness, unadulterated.
I pitched this to my boyfriend, handed him the camera and what rolled out was just a beautiful afternoon spent exploring figure and form with someone very dear to me. By the end, it felt like a dialogue had evolved and what he captured and how he did so, sincerely reflected that. That notion alone was liberating because it showcased a practice of sensuality. Josh captured these with such a tender approach. He was wonderful.
How does lingerie make you feel? And, of course, what is your favourite piece or set from Underlena?
Feminine, empowered and beautiful. So beautiful! Lingerie compliments the body that plays host to the mind that makes me, me. It's painful at times to feel laden with flaws, but actively cultivating sensuality through avenues with which I resonate and developing a transparent and honest relationship with my fears and aspirations fosters a magnificent relationship with myself. Lingerie embodies much of what makes me feel strong. It's a gift to myself. It fortifies my sensuality and it certainly facilitates a celebration of self.
Oh, I adore The Great Eros! I have the gorgeous Canova Underwire and Canova Hi Waist Bikini set in Java and the feel of it is simply divine. Hands down, my favourite set!
Thank you, Sasha, for considering these questions so deeply and sharing your inner thoughts with us!