Delano Marissa – From the Year You Beat Me

Dana Stolzgen

From the Year You Beat Me


The images you see are all cyanotypes that have been printed over the last several months, though the photographs themselves were taken just over a year ago. An onslaught of domestic violence took hold of my former relationship, and this work is an examination of that time – a gentle one or as gentle at one can be with this content. The photographs document the end in particular which nearly resulted in my death.

I work in cyanotype without any foresight as to how it will end… As I understand them, these cyanos are a messy short story or series of shorts because they only make sense as a group, as a body that gets up and walks itself around. The work began with great difficulty, it was nearly impossible for me to look at myself without these terrible fixed judgements or else an overriding sense of guilt. A big hump to overcome: fear. And in a sweeping, bewildering sort of way the work-in itself along with the entire process-has been a shaky vehicle moving me toward forgiveness-The Redemption Wagon-perhaps a VW van? These metaphors aren’t really useful I know. But, you see, I’m trying to paint you a picture with word alone. Painting with written word has been done before and so heartwrenchingly well that the whole thing is a little daunting and frankly I am quite scared of being seen as I was or as I am.

So this statement has gotten rather wordy, when I really wanted to keep it short, succinct. If I could say it in seven words I’d say: This is the work digging toward honesty.




I am an artist living in Richmond, Virginia. While I have no formal photographic training, I spend the better part of my time in the darkroom and experimenting with other printmaking processes. And process is just the word I mean. Because life is inseparable from process, just as my work is no doubt inseparable from my life. I take photographs and I write to better understand it all.

Currently am enrolled in undergraduate courses at a local community college, with no clear end in sight. But I’m certain that the rest of my life I’ll identify with being a student. I’m defining ‘student’ in the most basic sense- somebody who learns. And if there are reoccurring elements in my photographs, which I don’t really know, but if there are, they come from that state of wonder or inquisitiveness that students tend to- otherwise I’m nothing but a monomaniac for the questioning, both the painfulness and the joyousness which are a result of that. And one, I might add, with an impeccable memory.



4 Responses to “Delano Marissa – From the Year You Beat Me”

  • As a female that survived years of domestic violence, I can relate to Marissa Delano pieces and her essay.In certain parts of the world the law sees nothing wrong with a husband beating his wife if she gets out of line. In the US and many European countries this right has been taken away from men and is considered to be a crime. But yet there is still a lot of guys that thinks the can beat on a woman to gain total control over her. Domestic violence isn’t only physical abuse, it can be sexually, verbal, and mental abuse any of these forms of abuse can destroy a persons self esteem and self worth. Being able to notice the first signs and not being in denial that this what’s going on in your relationship will help you to protect yourself and to acknowledge that you need to get out of this situation easier said than done. The abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you. But you most get out the situation, it never has a good turn out. Marissa Delano has displayed the hurt, pain, and confusion of abuse. How one blames their self for the abuse, they become afraid of the abuser. The photos are beautiful but yet disturbing.

  • Painful to look at. Honest work often is.

    And seven more words: Hope you are in a better place.

  • This is a tough one to comment on. The images are beautiful, yet what they depict cruel and ugly – yes, painful to look at. The photographer has used her skill as an image maker to fight back against her tormentor and against the tormentors of so many others. In doing so has showed us her most vulnerable side. Making the work must have been cathartic. I echo Michael’s seven more words.

  • This is an example of what I like best about burn magazine. It’s from out of the mainstream, it’s meaningful and it’s innovative (I love cyanotype).

    To the photographer, I think you have a bright future in photography or whatever arts you choose to pursue as long as you can maintain (or at least fake convincingly after eventually becoming jaded) that state of wonder and inquisitiveness that’s so impressively on display in this work. And I certainly hope that in future projects you can put significantly more physical distance between yourself and the story without losing the depth and the meaning of the tale.

    I have no advice or negative criticism, but I do have one question. I don’t know if it would work or go against everything the essay is about or be too dangerous or if it is even possible, but I wonder whether it might be good to include a photo of the monster that caused those bruises? Seen from a conventional storytelling standpoint, you only show what the monster does, but never what the monster looks like. Typically in monster stories, showing the monster’s handiwork builds tension but at some point, usually near the end, we actually see the monster. It doesn’t matter much what the monster looks like. Often it’s more powerful if he doesn’t look like a monster. Again though, I’m not saying you should do that, but am curious if you gave it some thought?

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