WRITINGS (BY MARION GREENSTONE)

MY LIFE WITH ART

It was not until after I had completed my university studies and was working as an English teacher that I began to study painting. For years it had been a secret desire. I had no formal art training other than the usual uninspiring courses given at the time in the public schools. I had never been taken to museums or galleries. At age 21, while I was teaching school, I enrolled in a course with the painter Norman Lewis for one evening a week. For the next three years I devoted all of my spare time and free summers to studying art. Finally I decided to give up teaching and devote all my time to art. I enrolled in the Art Students League where I studied with Julian Levi and Vaclav Vytlacil and also continued work with Norman Lewis.

In 1951, I was accepted for the three-year course leading to a diploma at the Cooper Union. In 1953, while I was a student at Cooper Union, my work was included in the Brooklyn Museum Annual Print Show and the Whitney Museum Annual Exhibition.

When I graduated from Cooper Union in l954, I received the Academic Honor Award and won a Fulbright Scholarship for study in Rome from 1954 to 1955, which was renewed in 1955 for another year. While I was in Italy, my work was included in the Pittsburgh International Exhibition of 1955. During my two-year stay in Europe, I travelled extensively in Italy, France, England, Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Egypt. Living and working abroad was an enriching and maturing experience. It gave meaning and continuity to the past and new significance to the present.

In 1957, I moved to London, Ontario. The four years in Canada were extremely productive. I showed in many important national exhibitions and private galleries and won several prizes. Among these are: Baxter Foundation Award in Toronto, Honor Awards at the Winnipeg Show and the Vancouver Art Gallery, a Canadian Watercolour Society Award, and the Dow Award at the Montreal Spring show.

Although my work was abstract and I did not work directly from the scene, it was greatly influenced by the Canadian landscape and, as one critic put it, evoked "landscapes of the heart." My work could still be called abstract although over the years I have found inspiration in shell and flower forms as well as landscapes.

In 1974, I was commissioned to create a mural for the reading room of a new branch library in New York City. From 1968 to 1992, I was Adjunct Professor of Art at Pratt Institute. During a sabbatical year (1988-89), I worked on monoprints, a new medium for me. At present I am combining various techniques I had explored individually in the past, and this gives a new dimension to my work.

ART IS FOR ME...

I could not describe my work or the process of creating it in any way that would have meaning for the viewer. What I can say, however, is that my paintings are the only means I have for making visible ideas and images which could not exist in any other way for me.

My works are not meant to be translations from one language into another, but rather direct experiences, which are different from other kinds of experience both for the viewer and for me. When the work is successful, it can evoke images, feelings, memories and ideas which one may try to describe in words but which in the end remain largely ineffable.

MY AIM IS TO CREATE BEAUTY

My aim is to create beauty on a two dimensional plane with all or any of the means at my disposal. This beauty is not necessariy related to anything which already exists in the external world, although it may be inspired by such things as landscapes, plants, flowers, shells, lights, buildings - a myriad of things.

These shapes and colors are a starting point to help me create the art, which is a thing in itself. It tells no story, reproduces no object. It may evoke as many different responses as there are individuals who view it.

EVERYTHING IS PRESENT IN NATURE

These mixed media works grew out of a desire to work on a smaller scale than the large oil paintings I had been doing for so long. The linen came from roll ends that I had been accumulating for some time. One day I decided to cut the linen into rectangles and glue them onto a small rigid surface.

Then I proceeded to draw on the arbitrary rectangular composition with colored pencils, an unusual combination. These compositions wandered over the line surfaces sometimes respecting the rectangles and sometimes ignoring their edges. This back and forth play intrigued me. The imagery was evoked by the shell forms and patterns which had been the inspiration for my oils for a long time. The next phase was to glue rice paper onto the canvas rectangles upon which I use a combination or combinations of colored pencil, pastel, watercolor and paint.

In looking over my work, which spans a long period of time, I find that I have been drawn to similar forms, shapes, colors and textures, always coming from nature - landscapes, flowers, shells. Sometimes they are seen very close up, sometimes in what may seem like an aerial view. When forms are isolated, scrutinized, enlarged, similarities begin to emerge; the regular repetition of flower petals can find echoes in the pattern on a shell, or vice versa. These are the things that have attracted me both consciously and unconsciously.

Mc INTOSH MEMORIAL ART GALLERY THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO
NOVEMBER 17, 1964

For the artist an exhibition can be a painful experience. It is difficult to commit your work to the world. Now it becomes something totally apart from you, a stranger you once knew briefly but in a past which becomes more remote with each subsequent new painting. And yet an exhibition can also be a fruitful experience. It is exhilarating to encounter your painting in a neutral atmosphere away from the studio, to see it with complete objectivity for the first time. Often odd juxtapositions occur which can lead to important insights and discoveries.

This is a group of paintings which were done in New York since I left London exactly three years ago. They represent two different periods. The first group of non-objective paintings are the culminating expressions of my years in London as recollected and re-experienced in New York. The evocative landscape quality which dominated my London work is still a basic element here but there has been a change. Now there is a complexity and a dark, powerful, surging movement which the city has invoked.

The second group of non-rectangular works were completed during the past few months. They grew out of an increasing dissatisfaction with the limitations of the rectangle. For many years I have felt hemmed in by the edges of the canvas and it seemed that many of my works had a life beyond the perimeters. Therefore, it was a natural development to begin to add to the area in which the action took place. Soon this led to a series of geometric, hard edge paintings which were concerned mainly with form.

These experiments led me back to using images, first non-objective ones as before, and then actual images in a non-objective manner. For the most part I have used these photographs as abstract colors, shapes, lines and textures. In combining them with areas of paint I discovered that the two elements seemed to transform one another to become a third new element.

I have been interested in using non-rectangular shapes because they have the contrasting qualities of suggesting a larger world while at the same time offering fragments of that world. It is exciting and challenging to explore these new ideas and to follow where they will lead me.

COURSE AT PRATT - LIGHT, COLOR AND DESIGN

I. Aim of course

To help students to become artists and designers through developing skills and talents they have, but more important by opening up their capacity to see and feel and perceive the world around them and to organize what they perceive into visual order or art by using these skills and concepts. Visual Pollution is everywhere

Tremendous need for imagination and sensitive solutions to the problems of our civilization, which is fast being choked by its own pollution - think of the competing jumble of goods and packages and displays in a supermarket - the cheap monopoly of tacky houses in developments - and think of the poor design which results in functional breakdown, for example the thousands of cars recalled by Detroit every year as being unsafe. So you might say that our very lives physical and spiritual - depend on good design.

II. Course structure

At the beginning color and design will be approached separately in a series of simple but profound and basic problems which will lay the foundations for the more advanced work we will soon be doing. These problems were designed to help clarify and simplify and intensify your experiences and knowledge so that you can use this understanding as a basic vocabulary of skills and techniques.

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