Vultures, Bangkok, Thailand
Ariann Black’s Mission is to Magically Bring Joy to People
Both as a Master Magician & as a Fine Art Photographer
by Jeanne Brei
Ariann Black, one of the world’s foremost magicians, has discovered a new passion that still allows her to give the feeling of wonder back to people and help them see the magic in the world and things around them—only now it’s through her fine art photography.
She grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, with a twin sister, an older brother and a dad who was a teacher and a mom who was a teacher’s aide but both parents spent their free time creating art; her mom painted watercolors and her dad drew and painted as well. The artistic gene was definitely passed on to Ariann. It began to blossom with her theatrical flair in creating magic tricks and producing shows and it has continued to flower as she adds creating fine art photography to her repertoire.
As she explains, “When I was four years old I saw a magic trick and I was completely amazed. I wanted to learn everything I could about magic. It had changed the way I see the world. I love that sense of awe and wonder that I see in the faces of my audience when I perform–it’s like I’m bringing them back to a time in their childhood when everything was filled with magic. As adults, we tend to lose that and I feel that as a magician it’s my responsibility to take people away from the world that we live in and give them a place where anything is possible. That’s one of the reasons why I love magic so much.“
And now, with her photography, she feels that she can bring the way she sees the world to people’s homes. She notes that “people would always say, ‘you see the weirdest things,’ so I started taking pictures of what I noticed and saw.” And the next thing she knew, people wanted those pictures in their homes. One friend wrote in her social media page, “As an individual, you influence. As an influence, you are individual.”
She began performing magic at age 12 dressed in an Alice in Wonderland costume her mother made for her for children’s parties. After a year of college, she made the jump to Los Angeles and studied at the College of Manual Dexterity and Prestidigitation, Chavez School of Magic, in Pasadena. During her studies, she met Doug Henning who became one of her first mentors in the business. She moved to New York City at 19 and worked as a magic consultant for the touring company of Godspell, the original company of Forever Plaid, and the Broadway revival of The Cherry Orchard. She then moved to Atlantic City for Hollywood to Broadway, a revue show at Trump’s Castle, and stayed at Trump’s Castle as the house magician for four years.
Lotus, Bangkok, Thailand
Her first one hour show was booked in Japan where she stayed for nine months before taking the show to Chile, France, Italy, China, and on cruise ships. Working internationally, she decided to move to Las Vegas where she found great success, headlining her own show, Secrets, at Fitzgerald’s Casino in 2002 for a year and later re-opening a larger production of it at the Westin Hotel in 2010. She spent a year as the featured magician in Splash at the Riviera Hotel & Casino and two years opening for The Amazing Johnathan as his show moved from the Flamingo Hotel, Sahara Hotel, Riviera Hotel, Golden Nugget Hotel, and The Harmon Theater in Las Vegas. She has also opened for Louie Anderson and George Wallace and appeared in Vegas revues such as ICandy, Centerfolds Of Magic, She-
Stormy Beach, Hawaii
She’s worked extensively on television–appearing in the pilot episode of Penn & Teller’s Fool Us, the 200th episode of Gray’s Anatomy, Steve Harvey’s Bigtime, Masters of Illusions, and Lance Burton’s Guerrilla Magic among many others. She’s appeared in BBC shows and documentaries, in series for French and Italian networks and for the Canadian network, CBC.
A highlight of her magic career was the honor of performing for the President of the United States at the 2013 Presidential inauguration honoring living Medal of Honor winners. She has also won several awards including Magician of the Decade from the International Divas of Magic, Magician of the Year 2011, and International Female Magician of the Year for 2004, 2008 and 2009.
As a public, celebrity party and corporate event performer, she has run her own entertainment business for more than 20 years and travels all over the world bringing her gift of magic both as an individual headline performer and as a producer of entertainment events for hotels, casinos and special events. Her productions include live music, dancers, multiple magicians, and entertainers.
Pair of Merganser Ducks, Lake Audy, Manitoba
And the more she traveled, the more she took pictures. As she explains, “I didn’t realize that other people would want my photos when I started taking them. I take photos that speak to me and I hope that they speak to other people. I try to bring an emotion to my photos and I think, “Man, I am so lucky to be here at the right moment to capture the emotion.”
She explains, “My photos are eclectic—from a cobblestone street in Florida to a stone dragon in Macao to Canadian landscapes and wildlife to my kitchen counter in Las Vegas. The first place I started shooting was my kitchen and then the wetlands in Las Vegas, followed by my travels—including Macao, Hawaii, China, Canada—people would say to me that my photos look like postcards and I should sell them. But then an artist friend really touched me when he said, ‘most photographers don’t bring an emotion to their photos but your photos are emotion-driven and you need to share that with the world.’ He explained that my photography isn’t just photos, it’s art. It’s not just telling that story of a thousand words—it’s telling the story of that subject’s life—you see the bird’s pride and the loneliness of the moose or the buffalo.”
1800’s Cursed Bride Porcelain Doll, Private Collection.
She adds, “When I take photos I find the odd occasion when a picture makes me laugh. There is something funny about a sinking dingy in front of a moorage sign. I was so lucky to be there right when the sun was setting on this little boat’s last moments as it faces the mooring sign, to me that’s priceless. It’s sinking as the sun is sinking and yet the spot of safety is right there…It is said that Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful places in the world, I would have to agree–it doesn’t seem to matter when I go, the island is always beautiful.”
Many years ago, she told an interviewer, “I don’t know of any other job that has the ability to do bring joy to people in such a unique way. Imagine if there were no magicians and if there was no magic, the world would be a humdrum place. I think it’s one of the things that makes this world and my job so special.”
But now, she’s found yet another way to magically bring joy and touch people—through her photography. As she says, “I want my photos to sit in someone’s home and have people create their own stories of what they see and feel from my photos.”
For more info, visit www.ariannblack.com/photographyVultures, Bangkok, Thailand