As an interdisciplinary artist and writer who constructs installations and time-based visual narratives that memorialize obsessional lives, I draw inspiration from offbeat characters whose private manias become public fodder for tabloids and reality television.  In my practice, I combine dolls, artificial figures, performing objects, and elaborate costumes to investigate contemporary forms of animism, death, sexuality, and addiction.  I am fascinated by the negotiation of identity – a repetition of a repetition for which there is no original – in an ever-shifting landscape of technologies that can drastically alter and re-map the body.

Marsian De Lellis, (In)/Animate Objects, 2016, Photo: Alex Griffin
Marsian De Lellis, (In)/Animate Objects, LAMAG, 2016, Photo: Alex Griffin

A mountain of decaying rag dolls towers to the ceiling upon which their maker, the grandmother, presides from the throne of her wingback chair. (In)/Animate Objects, my installation for the C.O.L.A. Fellowship Exhibition, formed the second half of a diptych. Its companion, Object of Her Affection, was a performance centered on woman who in her search for love develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects.  The performance charted Andrea Lowe’s life of heartbreak from the loss of her baby blanket to doomed romances with monumental structures.  Years have passed since Andrea fatally fell from a crumbling tenement she was in love with. In sorrow, her grandmother has amassed thousands of dolls that testify to the insatiable need for love at the heart of the obsessional life.


In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, I constructed a storefront operating theatre at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, where I performed cosmetic procedures on one of America’s most beloved dolls.

Currently I am fine-tuning Object of Her Affection,  which was a recipient of a Jim Henson Foundation Project Grant.  I have also begun producing my next body of work, Model Killer, in which a disgruntled dollhouse-maker-turned-investigator constructs models of unsolved crimes only for it to be revealed that she is a serial killer.

I am just scratching the surface in my formal and thematic approach toward damage. The dolls and objects I generate straddle a precarious border between beauty and terror, pushing me to further examine the fringes of our shared world.