MARIE SIVAK TO EXHIBIT SCULPTURES AND A NEW INSTALLATION AT WESTERN OREGON UNIVERSITY
The Cannon Gallery of Art at Western Oregon University is pleased to present the innovative artwork of Portland-based sculptor and installation artist, Marie Sivak. Combining traditional stone carving with video projection, this body of work explores ideas of language and deception.
The exhibit, Tenuous, will be on view at the Cannon Gallery from now until February 14, 2014. There will be a reception for the artist, free and open to the public, on Wednesday, January 15 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. Marie Sivak will be on hand to discuss her work and answer questions. As well, Ms. Sivak will give a free lecture in Campbell Hall on Wednesday, February 5, beginning at 3:30 p.m.
The centerpiece of this exhibition is Sivak’s newest installation, Tenuous, a large-scale suspended installation of organza, steel balls and magnets. Tubes of organza drape in a web-like fashion from the ceiling, weighted in places by small steel balls and connected effortlessly and intermittently with magnets. Of this type of installation, Sivak says,
I often create large-scale installations of suspended, flaccid structural systems. My intuitive approach resembles the form finding approach of architects such as Antoni Gaudi and the engineer Frei Otto. The installations can ‘be conceived as a “state” or condition’ in terms of an open structure in time and space. When juxtaposed with sculptural objects they suggest the lattices of memory, a pattern of thought, or psychological terrain - an architecture of the interior world of the mind.
This exhibit also features five mixed-media sculptures, which push the boundaries of traditional carved stone into something completely new. Exquisitely carved alabaster - translucent in its nature - is combined with projections and video, producing an ethereal, sometimes unnerving, result.
Sivak actually embeds video imagery into some of her stone objects, which become specters of human dramas. Vicious represents a scattered pile of odd sized envelopes carved from limestone, marble, and travertine. At the center of the pile there is a video projection. After a moment one realizes that the video is projecting from inside the pile, through the clouded atmosphere of the stone; the surface of the sculpture becoming a kind of smoky screen. A woman's hands manipulate some white lettering, pushing it about like game pieces. The text in the projection isn't coherent but instead raises questions about the transparency of language, the significance of the handmade, and technology's role in communication.
In her artist statement, Sivak talks about the process of projecting imagery through stone. She says,
While I continue to work with projections the more recent works Vicious, and Aftermath represent a new and exciting development. In these projects the video element is projecting from inside the sculpture, through the stone, onto its surface. This is a technically challenging and labor-intensive way to work, but it’s hard to resist the conceptual and expressive magic of these materials. Video rendered through stone is transfigured into gentle, luminous gestures. Vicious and Aftermath explore ideas of language and deception, empathy, and the void between language and experience.
Marie Sivak’s interdisciplinary work investigates the psychology of memory, language, and the nature of human relationships in contemporary terms. She received her BFA in Sculpture from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA) and her MFA in Sculpture and Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond,VA). Her work has been shown in the United States, Europe, South America, Japan and Australia. Recent exhibitions include Smokescreen, at A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Selections from Portland 2012, A Biennial of Contemporary Art, Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland, OR and Oracle, Archer Gallery, Clark College, Vancouver, WA. Her work has also been shown at Nancy Margolis Gallery (New York), Art London with Panter & Hall Gallery, The Drawing Gallery (London), Kunstihoone (Tallinn, Estonia), and Palazzo Pretorio (Volterra, Italy). She is the 2013 recipient of the Margo Harris Hammerschlag Award and has received Career Opportunity Grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and The Ford Family Foundation, the Yeck National Young Sculptor’s Award, (Oxford, OH) , Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship, and a grant from the Ruth Chenven Foundation (New York). Ms. Sivak’s work is included in private collections around the world. Public collections include Miami University (Oxford, OH), the city of Volterra, Italy, and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK).
I am an interdisciplinary artist working in drawing, sculpture, video, and installation. My influences are diverse and include filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, Michelangelo Buonarotti, and the first generation of video and performance artists such as Bill Viola and Carolee Schneemann among many others. My work draws from the vocabulary of Renaissance sculpture, and conceptual art, freely combining language and ideas with visual experience.
The juxtaposition of materials creates the grammar of my work: salt and organza, hematite and silk, steel, video and stone. I often create large scale installations of suspended, flaccid structural systems. My intuitive approach resembles the form finding approach of architects such as Antoni Gaudi and the engineer Frei Otto. The installations can “be conceived as a “state” or condition” in terms of an open structure in time and space. When juxtaposed with sculptural objects they suggest the lattices of memory, a pattern of thought, or psychological terrain—an architecture of the interior world of the mind.
About 10 years ago I began thinking of ways in which I could incorporate video within stone sculpture. A habit of playing around with different materials and a specific experience solidified my interest in this combination. One day, I was cleaning out the closet and, I came across a suitcase. When I opened it I felt a shock. I had forgotten that I kept some things belonging to my partner, who had died several years before. The suitcase unleashed a powerful set of memories, and emotions that made me realize the mind and body are not separate-- that Descartes really had it all wrong. Maybe he didn’t do much crying. That day I cried so hard it hurt. I ended up feeling pretty dehydrated and laughing at how absurd it was that an object could elicit such a reaction. Later, I carved a life size suitcase from a 900 pound boulder of alabaster titled “Pneuma” which signifies “wind, breath, spirit” because the suitcase literally resuscitated my memory.
“Pneuma” is the first major sculpture I completed combining video with alabaster. Alabaster is a translucent stone. When video is projected onto the stone the material absorbs some of the light of the projection resulting in the sense that the imagery is emanating from within the stone. It is this specific juxtaposition of materials that suggest the Proustian moment when an object illicits a memory. In a more recent work titled, Memoir, a woman appears to be writing from inside of a large alabaster book. As she scrawls across the page her hand feels so close we can almost touch it--as if she literally exists within these pages. Memoir collapses the separate acts of writing and reading into one experience illuminating the paradox of experiencing intimacy and remoteness within the same moment.
“Pneuma” and “Memoir” established the importance of conceptual inquiry as the driving force of my work. I use sculpture and installation to dissect and represent the most ephemeral of lived experiences to explore their greater implications. While I begin with personal experiences, I am interested in the psychological and the metaphysical and how these shape collective experience and thought. The works are full of questions. What is the relationship of memory to the concept of the “soul”? How can lived experience influence abstract intellectual ideas? How is the body affected by the mind and vice versa?
While I continue to work with projections the more recent works “Vicious”, and “Aftermath” represent a new and exciting development. In these projects the video element is projecting from inside the sculpture, through the stone, onto its surface. This is a technically challenging and labor intensive way to work, but it’s hard to resist the conceptual and expressive magic of these materials. Video rendered through stone is transfigured into gentle, luminous gestures. “Vicious” and “Aftermath” explore ideas of language and deception, empathy, and the void between language and experience.
My work provides a poetic and analytical platform where objects and environments are the threshold to the sublime. I make spaces for contemplation, where the sensory experience and the resulting thinking becomes the concept. What drives this is the desire to know and explore intellectual ideas through sensory experience. The ideas often take me to the periphery of historically defined genres, the places where the distinctions between material craft and ideas, the traditional and the technological become so fine they don’t exist.
Marie Sivak Kinton,
The Dan and Gail Cannon Gallery of Art Located in the heart of Western Oregon University's campus in the beautifully renovated Campbell Hall.
Campbell Hall was built in 1871 and is the oldest building still in use the Oregon University System. The gallery has approximately 700 square feet of exhibition space and holds six exhibitions during the academic year and one in the summer. Thematic and media-specific exhibits by regional and nationally acclaimed artists are included in each annual schedule. In the spring, the annual juried student exhibition showcases the high caliber of sculptures, ceramics, prints, paintings, drawings, and graphic design produced in our art department during the year. The Cannon Gallery is a teaching gallery. It provides a great resource for artists and the students to examine and consider the role of art and exhibition space in society today.
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