by Finesse Finesse


In the realm of contemporary art, few artists possess the raw authenticity and commitment to advocacy as Marisa Mu. Through her work, Marisa invites viewers into a world where self-representation intersects with cultural heritage and the complexities of identity.

At the core of Marisa's artistic process lies a deep acknowledgment of her journey. She views each artwork as a reflection of her multifaceted identity - encompassing queerness, culture, and lineage. This unfiltered approach serves as a conduit for expression, allowing Marisa to navigate personal experiences with introspection and honesty.


The evolution of Marisa's abstract style during the Covid-19 lockdowns reveals a profound dialogue between self and medium. In collaboration with friends, she embarked on a cathartic journey of creation, birthing a new visual language rich in colours, textures, and narratives. This intuitive experimentation continues to shape her art, blurring the lines between chaos and coherence.

Yet, Marisa's art transcends mere aesthetic exploration; it embodies a commitment to advocacy and cultural preservation. Through platforms like Tits & Co., Marisa amplifies marginalised voices, particularly those of queer women of colour. Her dedication to fostering inclusivity within the art world is evident in her leadership, where she strives to create safe spaces and celebrate diversity.


As Marisa embarks on new projects, including a move to NYC, her artistic journey takes on a global dimension. With a focus on cultural expression and storytelling, she aims to bridge the gap between her Hakka Chinese and East Timorese lineage and her queerness. Through conceptual art rooted in personal narrative, Marisa seeks to challenge norms and elevate underrepresented voices.

As we witness Marisa's journey unfold, one thing becomes clear: her art is not just a reflection of identity, but a catalyst for change. Through storytelling and activism, Marisa continues to carve out space for marginalised voices, reminding us all of the transformative power of art. 

Marisa invites us into her home for a chat, a beverage and a game of Mahjong wearing the Salomon XT-4 OG Aurora Borealis from Finesse.


How do you approach the process of self-representation in your art, especially concerning the complexities of identity and intersectionality?

Such a good question! Foremost, I am a relatively unfiltered person and it’s important for me to acknowledge the journey that I have undergone to get to this point in my career. I wholeheartedly believe I am an embodiment of my art and every artwork is essentially a mirror of the multiplicity of my being – my queerness - my culture - my lineage, they are all interconnected and my art is my channel for expressing this.

I believe we are all works in progress and I have been doing the self work the past few years which has enabled me to really listen to all the inner voices that I had locked away because of shame or not really understanding the repercussions of what was unfolding. These inner voices range from me struggling with finding a sense of community most of my life, trying to grapple with losing my mother at 19 and trying to understand the cyclical nature of life and death whilst also reconnecting with my roots; I went through assimilation when I was young and lost my language and a lot of my culture. I am now trying to reconnect and rediscover and feed into my curiosity because the storytelling is truth-telling and this is what fuels me and my practice.

I am unlearning and learning simultaneously, it’s all a process and maintaining that level of authenticity and storytelling is paramount to me, its cultural preservation, it speaks volumes and extends outside of my own narrative because I also would not be where I am if it weren’t for the community standing alongside me, all working collectively towards visibility and love.


Can you share any specific experiences or influences that have shaped your style?

My abstract style started developing during the Covid-19 lockdowns we experienced here in Naarm. As a way to connect, I would invite a friend into my studio and we would work on a large canvas together and this dialogue would ensue between us but also through the artwork itself. It was really cathartic and healing and it birthed this new visual language that I hadn’t experienced first-hand before.

In 2022, I was doing my thing in my studio when I got invited by my dream gallery space, At The Above to work with them on something special during the lockdowns. They supported me from every facet and I ended up living in the gallery for 3 weeks by myself and did a self-directed Artist Residency where I set the brief of uncovering what it meant to love myself in isolation and channel that through art. It was a deeply confronting and challenging experience but the rewards were mammoth, I didn’t know I could create such beautiful pieces, let alone start sharing such intimate and vulnerable sides of me through art.

My style is still unfolding in the Abstract sphere, I feel really intuitive and experimental with my abstracts and it’s this fine line between making sense of the colours and chaos but also allowing the voice of the story to come through and make an impact, pull you in with the details and textures. It’s a really introspective process where you are in constant dialogue with yourself and questioning every brushstroke but then allowing the medium to also guide you – I love it and am excited to see how this visual language continues to speak to me and through me. 


How do you negotiate the balance between preserving cultural heritage and pushing boundaries within your artistic practice? 

These are really good questions! I feel that the storytelling of my culture and ancestral lineage is the most important element when approaching my art making. I have visions and ideas that extend from the narratives of my lived experience and I see symbols from my childhood that continue to hold deep relevance and resonance to me now as an adult, and I spend a lot of time musing and unpacking that. Regarding the pushing of boundaries in my practice, I have been experimenting a lot with materiality and gauging what would be the most effective means to preserve culture and storytelling. It’s been really wonderful to see this very organic process evolve where I have started embracing sculpture and mix media in a whole new light.

A perfect example of me finding that balance between preserving cultural narratives and pushing my own boundaries is with my recent Lucky 13 series which was a focal point in my solo exhibition, titled "With Pleasure". I did completely different styles of painting, used upcycled antique materials, made peaches and bitter melon sculptures out of resin to emulate varying types of Jade stone, I even learnt about entomology and integrated real butterfly specimens within my works. Each of these artworks were paying homage to my late mother and the relationship shared between parent and child and exploring the concept of universal love languages ascending generations.

I came to this point during the making of this show where I realised that I had to trust the voice in my soul that was telling me to listen to what was true and right for me, and that was to be vulnerable and brave enough to share a very real and humanising part of my life, which was losing my mum and having undergone so much self work, I had reached a point where this was a definitive moment in my career that I had to honour, despite how different it was from my known bodies of work. It was incredibly healing and liberating to make the work and to also share it with the world, the reception has been nothing short of wonderful.


Can you discuss the significance of representation within the art world for queer women of colour, and how do you envision creating space for yourself and others like you?

I have made it my mission statement, both personally and professionally to forefront and platform for marginalised voices, specifically queer women of colour and refugee, migrant and asylum seeker peoples. We don’t really have a seat at the table in the art world, and I have consistently seen it be tokenistic or disingenuous and it fuels me to ensure I cultivate and hold safe spaces for these voices whenever I can.

I am the director of the platform Tits & Co. which recognises, supports and celebrates female and gender non-conforming peoples from all over the world and we have shown in major art fairs within Australia and have received global recognition which is awesome considering our grassroots nature, but there is a long way to go. I am here to create our own table where everyone is welcome and has a seat at the table, I want to continuously see spaces and opportunities being created both commercially and privately that empower marginalised voices to be celebrated and supported; I have been so lucky to have had the career I have had but it has come with constant hardship and being perceived as an underdog all my life, I feel like its an inherent innate feeling of always having to fight to be seen or heard and it simultaneously grounds me but also pushes me to keep doing the work.

I feel like we are all bearing witness to a socio-political upheaval across the world at the moment and there is a revolution unfolding, there is this resistance and fight for freedom and a rise for justice which is a reflection of the voice of the people. I believe that we will see big shifts in our lifetime where those that have been silenced for centuries will be leading from the front and I am doing what I can to ensure marginalised voices such as queer and BIPOC folk have a say at the table. 


Are there any upcoming projects that you're particularly excited about, and how do they align with your artistic or personal goals? 

Gosh! I have a few projects underway at the moment, solo shows and Art Fairs aside, I am particularly excited about chasing my dreams and relocating to NYC mid-year. I want to take my platform Tits & Co. global and continue to platform for female and gender-non conforming peoples, to share and honour diverse stories. I am really looking forward to being in the cultural mecca of the Big Apple as a practising artist and connect and expand my community and see what unfolds.

I have been brave and have proposed some incredible activations rooted within the Asian Diaspora and Queer Expression, specifically for the cultural preservation of my Hakka Chinese and East Timorese lineage whilst navigating my queerness which I will be undertaking whilst in NYC. I want to be a storyteller and a conceptually driven artist and I can feel it in my bones that I am doing what is right by me and my practice and I am not turning back, I am looking upwards and forwards and can’t wait to take you along for the journey!

Creative Director & Photography:  @ouibutterup
Marisa wears the Salomon XT-4 OG Aurora Borealis in Shortbread/Bird Of Paradise from Finesse