Art Business News


Vibrant Blue Bookshelf Buddha

Interview with Marlene Rose

ABN: What inspires your work – where do your ideas come from? An artist, a culture, a period of time?

Rose: All of my work, whether figurative or abstract, has a spiritual aspect to it. Looking East was inevitable as the paintings, calligraphy, architecture, even the clothing of the East seems to share that common quality. While the Buddha faces that I’m known for are inspired by Buddhas from Vietnam, China and India, the concept of the face itself has come to mean much more to me. It seems that the imagery transcends culture and appeals to a universal common thread in humanity, of the striving to be bigger than oneself, and to dissolve the man-made barriers between cultures and peoples.

These threads of human imagery, passing through cultures and time inspire me. I am compelled to weave and recompose their nuances, all to communicate the immortal vibrancy of the human spirit. The glass may look like a relic of some ancient time, but each piece holds inside itself the sum of the sharp shards of what I have seen, of unnamed emotions, of visions, concepts and memories.

ABN: Why glass? Why this process? I have read the description you sent about the process, but I guess the question revolves around how did you come to discover the process and what draws you to it.

Rose: I am a glass artist. More specifically, a sandcast glass artist.

I pour liquid molten glass into sand molds I have carefully prepared. It is in the ancient tradition of all metal casting, going back thousands of years to the Ages of Iron and Bronze. Indeed, the Romans and Phoenicians and many others too, took this technique and used it to make made glass.

But glass in this ancient tradition tended to be made only on an industrial scale. It was just in the 1980’s that the heating and (very) controlled cooling of the glass became viable on a Studio level, where individual artists could create their own unique pieces of art.

My teacher, Gene Koss in New Orleans, learnt this technique of casting glass from one of the founders of the American Studio Glass Movement, and I am very fortunate to have been introduced to this unique technique while it was in its infancy.

The technique differs from the blown glass with which we are all familiar. It is far closer to the fine-art tradition of casting objects, something which appealed to my artistic sensibilities more than the craft-based tradition of blown glass.  Gene always said that a piece had to work as a sculpture first, and that if it should look good no matter what it was made from. Glass gives a very special aspect of life to the work. Glass changes all the time, depending on the light that flows through it, and it is the changing light in which we live which gives us its subtle inner beauty.

ABN: What are your goals for today? For the future?

Rose: Keep making high quality art which evokes an emotional response in the viewer.

ABN: We appreciate the time with Marlene—her goals sum up a career built with the future always in mind. We can’t wait to see her next compelling collection.

Gambit Magazine

Review: Temples of Glass

New work by Marlene Rose and mixed media artists at Angela King Gallery

D. Eric Bookhardt Oct 5, 2015 - 2:27 pm

Time flies. Days can slip by, almost surreptitiously, until decades have passed. Angela King noticed that recently when she realized that her gallery is 30 years old. She has been its director for decades, starting when it was called Hanson Gallery and featured work that was to contemporary art what "easy listening" is to FM radio. After buying the gallery from its California-based owner 10 years ago, King included art that, while still accessible, has more psychological or spiritual depth. The current Marlene Rose expo of cast glass sculptures is decorous while resonating the timeless aura associated with African masks, Buddha heads, totems and ancient artifacts. Local art buffs will note some parallels with the cast glass concoctions of local maestro Mitchell Gaudet, whose surreal works often feature martyred saints whose suffering on behalf of others reflects traditional Roman Catholic notions of empathy. Both studied glass sculpture at Tulane University, but Rose's serene Buddha heads, such as Purple Lotus (pictured), evoke a meditative sort of empathy meant to transcend suffering itself. Royal Street's competitive distractions can be daunting, but King's humanistic focus makes her offerings personable.

Belgian artist Eddy Stevens' dreamlike portraits, painted in a magic realist style reminiscent of Jan van Eyck, Lucian Freud and our late local barfly genius Noel Rockmore, evoke characters from fantastical fiction while looking oddly at home in the French Quarter. Local artist Aaron Reichert's manically dynamic and sinewy gestural paintings of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein also hark to Rockmore — especially the eerie depth and otherworldly funk that characterized his jazz portraits. But Woodrow Nash's large "African Nouveau" clay sculptures are unlike anything else. With hints of Nubian statuary and traditional West African wood figures, some are rendered in ceramics so vividly hued that they seem almost psychedelic. Despite their prismatic charisma, his figures seem pensive, even reflective, like timeless witnesses to their own history who have been left in stunned silence by what they have seen.