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“Miracle Journey” Paintings by Marlene Rye
New Year Celebration/Exhibition at James Ratliff Gallery, Sedona, AZ
By: James Ratliff Gallery
What is the journey, you may ask, and why is it a miracle?
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. (“Little Gidding”, T.S. Eliot)
Our lives are spent in exploration on all levels. Growing up in Connecticut, Marlene Rye has always been captivated by nature. Rye explains further: “I have always been fascinated by trees. In an apple orchard, I see the way the trees interact with one another, almost like human beings. The landscape changes and moves; it’s not static.” There is always the element of uncertainty. Where the ground and water exist, where does one begin or end?
Rye interprets spaces over a period of time. Her aim is to “reconnect in the landscape”, back into that magical world, not just paint “pretty scenery”
Marlene’s long walks in nature became a lifestyle, one which she enjoys daily, usually around 4 areas, in search of what’s different, the same, at varying times of day or season of year—in search of “seeing”, of interpreting favorite places over a period of time. The painting “Disappear”
The artist collaborates with dance groups who have discovered their ideas of movement permanently changed by working together. Many of the works in this exhibition were inspired by her work with dancers.
The artist’s process, begun in childhood, was enhanced through formal education. She received her Arts Baccalaureate, Studio Art from Smith College, Master of Arts from Western Carolina University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. To this day, Rye gleefully laughs when she recounts the challenges she had trying to conform to the then academic preoccupation with conceptual and abstract art as a dominant focus for creating art. Marlene tried and tried to do what was expected. “It never felt right,” Rye explains, believing her work lost its soul. Her tenure at Penn was highly influenced by her collaboration with colleagues and lessons learned from visiting artists. One day, her advisor, John Moore, said: “Your subject is romantic! Get over it! Swim in it!” For Rye, this was a major “Aha” moment. At her final faculty evaluation from Penn, the advisors told Rye: “You definitely found your voice.”
“The scenes I depict do not exist in the physical world. The images themselves are soft, organic and fluid. I seek a complex surface that allows the forms to speak to the air that surrounds them. I want the shapes to breathe in the space and be bathed in light. Through pouring and wiping, the application of brayer, palette knife, and sander, and sometimes the stroke of an actual brush, each piece emerges from the white canvas. What coalesces there is an image where time and season, scale and shape become indefinite and fluid. Is the sun setting or rising? Is it spring, autumn, or both? Is that a single leaf, or a towering tree? Am I crawling through a tight closed space, discovering a vast world just around the corner, or tucked away in a secret space?”
“The works are always full of wonderment of nature through a child’s eye. As in dreams or memories, everything is brighter, more fanciful, surprising, and magical. The world of the child will always belong to children but I invite you to visit it with me anew.”
“When I am painting, all of my senses come alive. I am filled to the tips of my fingers and toes with adrenaline and the urge is so powerful, that if I don't do it, I feel like I will explode. When I was in graduate school, the first week I made seven paintings. My instructors told me to SLOW DOWN! I learned to extend that energy so that I could stay in a painting longer, and the fire is sustained the whole time. When I am making a body of work, they are with me all the time in my head. If I am away from studio, I think about the paintings I have in process and work on them mentally. As soon as get there, I release that energy back into the work. I can't imagine a life without making art. It is if all the beauty around me channels through me and I have to release it on the canvas!”
Rye absolutely loves life. Her face and work reveals that joy. Despite a fire in August, Rye’s studio was rescued by generous contributions from her community and she has been able to produce a commemorative series of works from that experience: “Phoenix Rising”. For Rye, painting is like breathing: “I can’t stop doing it,” she says, “I must paint beauty with color”.
Rye’s invitation to you
“Return to a time when nature was more than a backdrop that you walked through or drove by, a time in your childhood where all the fairy tales had not been outgrown or explained away. Imagination ran free, unacquainted with the adult world of ‘facts’. Here was a world not yet fully defined, not yet labeled and categorized. Remember finding that magical tree where anything and everything was possible, that secret space where trees became circus performers, magicians, dancers, and all things fantastical. It was a world so charged, so brimming with possibility that you could close your eyes and see the space through your whole body, with all your senses. It was a child’s world and only children can truly live there. I have explored this world throughout my life and work.”
Enjoy art in film and exhibit. Make the journey yourself! For information about “Miracle Journey” or Marlene Rye, contact James Ratliff Gallery.
James Ratliff Gallery
Page Updated Last on: Dec 16, 2014