Marlene Siff Art Exhibition Talk at Walsh Art Gallery

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Artist Statement
On the "Elements of Peace Series"

Inspired and frustrated by all of the troubles in the world, I decided to create a new body of work entitled "Elements of Peace." I embarked on this mission in the winter of 2007, as a personal way of involving myself with issues outside of painting, with the hope of making a difference and creating awareness through art.

I began collecting words and phrases that I associate with peace from theatre productions, films, texts, newspapers, magazines, television programs, conversations and songs. This collection of contemporary sound bites has been incorporated into a body of work comprised of works on paper, paintings and mobiles, each named after an element of peace from my collection of words and phrases.

On August 7, 2008, I was confronted by the New York Time’s 3-page spread of
“The Roster of the Dead,” a list of all of the American soldiers who had lost their lives in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan up to that point. Deeply moved, I felt I had to respond in some way, so I began sketching plans for a large mixed media commemorative assemblage that would pay homage to our country’s fallen heroes.

As I began gathering my ideas, making sketches, creating maquettes, and researching the materials necessary for "Fallen Heroes/Afghanistan", so many questions needed to be answered. Is war inevitable? Is peace something that exists only in moments of time? Can peace ever be the natural state of our world?

A selection of the paintings from this new body of work manifest a dramatic departure from anything I have done before. Color has been my muse forever, but for this show, some of the works are painted in shades of white. White represents an environment associated with peace and rest. It is soft, quiet, spiritual, unadorned, and full of infinite possibilities. Scientifically, a white surface reflects light of the entire color spectrum. Conceptually, the act of keeping a painting white became an exercise in self-restraint and sacrifice, indicative of my need to somehow respond to the war, and symbolically give something of myself.

The metaphor of a perfect union is the pulse of the show, and speaks to the formal and conceptual concerns of the paintings. A union between people of all races, creeds and religion is necessary for contemporary society to experience peace, just as a union between colors is necessary for the color white to be experienced.

My intention for the entire series, whether the works communicate through color, or lack thereof, is to create spaces and gateways for people of all walks of life to come together to reflect on war and peace, and to commemorate our "Fallen Heroes".


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