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Artist Matti McLean transformed Kira's body (pictured above) into a work of art to show the beauty of the human form. Courtesy of Matti McLean

Matti McLean once hated his body so much that he stopped eating in his last year of high school.

Now he’s advertising the beauty of the human form by transforming it into a work of art.

Through the Human Canvas Project, established last year, McLean uses his paint brushes to capture both his subjects’ figures and personalities.

Using music, discussion and individual colour choices, McLean tries to tap into each person’s individual character and use the body as the canvas it’s painted on.

McLean, also an author and actor, says his art shouldn’t be confused with ordinary body painting.

“One of the biggest things that body painting tries to do is disguise the body, while I’m trying to show who the person is behind the paint,” McLean said.

McLean’s subjects begin the creative process by picking out a playlist of ten songs along with up to five colours they like. McLean then gets to work bonding with his subject before applying his trademark swirls, strokes, and dabs showcasing what he calls the subject’s inner beauty.

Subjects are sometimes hesitant to display their bodies, McLean said, adding he understands their reticence all too well.

The artist struggled with his image and sexuality in high school, ultimately leading him to abuse his body and drop 45 pounds in six months.

“A lot of gay men struggle with eating disorders, I didn’t like who I was and took it out on my body,” he said.

McLean overcame his self-esteem issues and began the Human Canvas Project as a way to document his close friends and the way that he saw them on the inside.

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You are your own voice. Your mouth has its own choice. Yes and maybe can change at any hour. Because I have consent, I have power.
From “Got Consent” by Larrinitta Starks, reprinted in this piece at Colorlines about some awesome new projects here.