Monday, March 7, 2011

"Momento Mori"

Last Friday, while I was doing laundry, I had the joy of looking though a magazine.  I had the spare time, so I sat myself in a quiet place and began reading.  The magazine of choice was "Where Women Create", and I picked it up a few weeks ago from Borders.  Well, it's safe to say I was almost automatically entranced.  It's very interesting to me to see where people "create" in general, and this magazine in particular led me to some interesting people.

Magda Trzaski stood out to me.  She is a twenty-something from Toronto, by way of Canada, Denmark, and Poland.  Her studio is stark black and white theme with dashes of red, and even less dashes of other colors, scattered about.  There are soft, white curtains covering the windows, and a bevy of white Japanese lanterns hanging from the ceiling.  Her work-space tables are covered with cups of pens and markers, a sewing machine, spools of thread, current projects, and pieces of her world.  It's enchanting and whimsical, but it also has a dark element that can't be denied.  A few black paper lanterns hide in the corner, and as you look at it, you realize that it's covered with skulls and cross-bones.  On the table, the one white lamp has a straight black shade, and it's covered with (what looks like) dried miniature vine, and out of the top, a small skeleton is poking out.

One of the shadow-boxes.
And then we get to her art, her sculptures, while not of a particularly scary subject, are crafted in such a manner that it feels a little "off".  It's definitely not happy or cheerful, but the animal represented is smiling.  It's awkward and haunting, and I can't stop thinking about it.  The shadow-boxes she creates are even more dramatic.  A simple black frame outlines a white backdrop with the subject in the middle.  The one I'm looking at now has a single rabbit figure holding a red balloon (which plays a large role in her storytelling).  "I adore placing cats, rabbits, birds, and skeleton-like snow folk under glass like curiously forestalled activity.  I like to float balloons mid-air and hover mid-juggle as my creatures balance in a limbo of thought and activity.  It's the celebration of luxury and the allure of beauty, despite the thought-provoking notion that death is part of any life", Magda says.

A few of her sculptures.
Ultimately, it is this intermingling that makes her art so interesting.  Her "Momento Mori" (Latin translation: "remember your mortality") creations "urges the view to neither forestall joy, nor deny the inevitability of death".

It makes you stop and think about all of the elements you encounter on a daily basis.  I think, as humans, we encounter an amazing amount of emotion on a daily basis, and that it all needs an outlet.  How you handle something, says a lot about you.  And I think right now, for me, not only is it "handling" things, but also observing people around me... I have the opportunity to learn from everyone around me, and use their experiences as potential life examples for me.  It's up to me to use those, and be there for other people as well.

I'd say that when I was in college, specially during my Freshmen year, I was acutely aware of death-like elements...  not that I was into the Goth movement or anything, but I was in College, exploring religion, studying new things, and creating.  My spirituality was thriving and evolving, and I was discovering that these "elements" were around me.  In my Drawing and Painting I class, many of my assignments seemed to lean towards the "weird" and spiritual.  One assignment we had was to take a picture and then make it bigger using the grid system.  Well, I chose a close-up picture of me from when I was about 2, and I am in the middle of the shot, looking away from the camera.  I chose it because I thought it would be relatively simple to re-draw larger, and there was a lot of negative space.  So, we began the project and I had the basic-outline completed fairly quickly.  The problem was the negative space.  It seemed really empty.  My professor suggested that I develop it, and so I started drawing.  I would draw, erase, add some lines here, using my shading stick to create some texture, and before I knew it, I had these spirits beings showing up in my art...  I believe there was 5 at the end, after all was said and done.  I loved the way it looked, but couldn't describe where they came from... they just appeared.  And at roughly 6'W x 4'H, the piece was large and ominous.  And a bit eerie, if I do say so myself.

To this day, that is one of my favorite pieces.

And I think that it speaks to a connection.
A connection to something else out there, that although not always completely recognizable, is still there.

And I think that is what draws me to Magda's work.
It's stark and dramatic, yet speaks to symbols and a personal connection that can't be denied.
I find that completely enthralling and want to explore it further.

A blog featuring the article.
Magda's Blog

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