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Special Events

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Special Events, Featured Events

Marilyn Andrews: Works in Clay
Saturday, April 18, 2020, 02:00pm - 04:00pm
 Contact (413) 625-9833 or salmonfalls@megaplanet.com

A Retrospective Exhibit at Salmon Falls Gallery

When I pulled into Andrew Van Assche’s driveway, I knew I was in the right place. Ceramic sculptures by his wife, Marilyn Andrews, peeked out from beside woodpiles, graced walkways and generally inhabited the yard of this Plainfield, MA home that they built and shared together for more than 30 years. Marilyn died in 2019. I was here to help curate her sculptures into a retrospective exhibit, which would hopefully show the full range of her life in clay.

Andrew invited me into their studio space, now transformed from a working clay studio, into a gallery of Marilyn’s sculpture. The earliest work was from 1983, a piece on which the couple had collaborated. The intention was to explore the gender roles of their own relationship, and then discard them. One clue to this process is shown by a schematic image in a corner of the piece: a male figure and a female figure with a large X drawn through them both. Andrew marveled at how current the subject matter was to our society today, where any kind of categorization in terms of gender is being thoroughly questioned. He shared that during the project of building their home, Marilyn took on wiring the house herself, an activity certainly contrary to the gender ‘norms’ of the 1980s.

Looking around, I found myself surrounded by sculptures expressing the need to communicate. Each had something specific to say. I found one theme brought the entire collection together: relationship. Being in dialog: human to human, human to earth, human to spirit and with oneself, shown in myriad and surprising ways. When I learned that Marilyn taught Non-violent Communication to people on probation under the auspices of Quabbin Mediation, it just made sense within the framework of her art.

The human figure is front and center in every one of these sculptures. Here is her artist’s statement from the Salmon Falls Gallery 2017 exhibit The Figure Speaks:

The figure is us. In the most minimal marks we see the shape of our world – dark ground, light sky – and ourselves in it – circle of face, upright body.  “Standing” means us and the things we build.

When I strip away clothing and hair, with their signals about gender and class, I have a powerful basic symbol to work with. When I depict figures as I see them around me, I get the same symbolic power with the weight of culture added. When I create an imagined figure I have a symbol of the Self removed to a perspective that moment-to-moment living can’t access.

It’s the power of the symbol that fuels my play with it. Such a rich resource – the smallest gesture of the body or face is full of meaning for us. This is the material I use to make a new connection between myself (physically, emotionally and intellectually) and the physical and social world around me. This is my understanding of art-making and the capability it offers us for understanding our world and communicating with each other.”

This exhibit is large: 75 sculptures and wall pieces. The works include large free-standing sculptures, her completely surprising and delightful salt & pepper shakers, teapots and a group of 10 pieces from one of her collectors, Harold Grinspoon.

The exhibit can be seen through April 26, with a reception on April 18, from 2-4pm with music by Forest Avenue, friends who played music with Marilyn over the years. For more information, SalmonFallsGallery.com or call the gallery at 413.625.9833.

Location Salmon Falls Gallery