Michelle Marcuse

Contact Information


Phone: 215-901-7190


Studio & Gallery

1816 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Please contact artist for purchases, commissions, etc.

Wall and 3D installations

Sculpture & 3D


I grew up in South Africa during the Apartheid era. My childhood was full of creative play with elaborate tales and make believe worlds. Although seemingly idyllic, the ever presence of apartheid loomed with its angst and sorrow.

My work involves imaginary worlds of Fairytales, Utopias and Dystopias. They fluctuate between playfulness and grim darkness and are drawn from my unconscious. As floating microcosms without a gravitational pull, these partially architectural structures are no longer anchored.

In revisiting my dream world, I am navigating through the perception of the utopian reality experienced in my youth and the emotional awareness of its dystopia.


Silver Drawings

These drawings relate to the mystical-magical world that my eyes cannot comprehend although my body can sense. The background for this work comes from a period in my life when I was around the age of 10. I dreamed the aftermath of a mythical and transcendental occurrence. It left my world in unidentified matter exposed to light and dark shafts where the unimaginable existed within shifting currents. I had become a traveler transitioning into a magical environment which involved compelling movement. Curious observation replaced fear. My unbound floating self now democratically shared the same characteristics of other particles around me. It was only within the past few years that I recognized this dream state within my images: a concentration of forces existing in an unfathomably peaceful yet activated silence. I have used mono-chromaticity to suggest a timeless atmosphere with elements that appear veiled, secret and uncategorized. Made on darkened silver leaf, the nature of this world embodies extracts from a distant level of otherworldly reality.

Graphite Drawings

Mixed Media

Transfer Prints To Wax

Laser printing directly onto a releasable surface, my images are transferred/printed to the skin of the wax where they are seamed together in their entirety.

I use mono-chromaticity to suggest a subdued, sometimes anxious atmosphere that appears veiled, mysterious and uncategorized. At first glance there may seem to be an identifiable space with specific elements in a state of isolated flux. In effect, they are extracts from a distanced level of reality that runs counter to our own.

These works are about a concentration of quiet energy, existing in silence, slow in time with energy that moves from the outside in.



Artist's Biography

The work of Michelle Marcuse mirrors and symbolically chronicles her childhood experiences, dream states, both past and present, and encapsulates commentary on contemporary living. Growing up in apartheid South Africa during the late 1950s - 1970’s, she experienced firsthand a dystopian society where Black South African majority lived in the servitude of a White minority. Her fragmented architectural forms and decayed environments express the remembrances of and issues surrounding society under duress.

Twice featured in the New American Paintings publication, she received awards from the Woodmere Art Museum Endowment Fund, The Gormley Gallery Notre Dame of Maryland University print exhibition and Honorable Mention from The Leeway Foundation Awards for Women in the Arts [1998]. Select group exhibitions include: Things Fall Apart at The Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA; BLAM Projects Brooklyn, NY [2016]; Arte y Amor, Taller Boricua, NYC [2016]; and Borderless Caribbean, Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance, Miami, FL [2015]. In 2012 The Vermont Studio Center granted her a one month Full Fellowship. Most recently she was a recipient of a Wind Challenge exhibition at the Fleisher Art Memorial [2016]. Her work can be found in The USA Embassy of Bangkok, Thailand; the Collection at the University of Notre Dame of Maryland, The Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, The State Museum of PA in Harrisburg and in the Philadelphia Museum of Art fiber collection. She resides in Philadelphia since 1984.

Artist's Statement

Time, space and memory are essential to my creative journey. Deeply rooted in perception and imagination, my work calls on an array of unexpected possibilities, making me aware that seeing is an unstable process dependent on memory and illusion. My interest partly lies at the intersections of the arts, industry and the renewable. At this junction I construct installations that deliver the viewer into a fantasy of spatial relationships with light and shadow, misaligned perspectives, and a sense of unpredictability that will serve as a depository of fantasy, connectivity, and ideas -- stacked with self-referential work from my life experiences in South Africa and America that are ready for reinterpretation. Creating “spaces beyond reality” I build my narrative to establish a message of vulnerability through disintegration, manipulated forms, structurally incomplete surfaces and non-rectilinear shapes.

My formative years were marked by the elitism of the South African Apartheid system and the witnessing of a silent majority struggling to exist within a state of humiliation. Rooted in childhood myths and stories my work often addresses the anxiety and memories from this period.

Blurring the lines between that which is generative and elements that are decaying and in stages of entropy, my methods include both build up and destruction. For reference, I look at materials under duress to stimulate new forms, surface tensions and quality of line. Being suspended at the intersection of architecture, history, and culture, I relate to contemporary social issues such as dominance, the accrual of power, greed and survival and frailty.

The use of discarded materials in my work is deliberate. I look for unexpected approaches and for elements that have vulnerabilities. These raw elements provoke experimentation and with that comes new perceptions. I hope to draw in the viewer as a participant in how we sense our reality and illusions within our fragile worlds and provide a challenge to one’s perceptions, beliefs and expectations.

Selected Exhibitions


MAC@Intuitive Art Space, Manayunk, PA

GrizzlyGrizzly, Philadelphia, PA

2016 – 2017
Wind Challenge, Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA

Carrying the Dreamer, LGTripp Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

LGTripp Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

As Seen On Site, Inliquid at the Bride, The Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

Present Tense, Gallery Siano, Philadelphia, PA

Hive and Hue, The Gallery at R&F, Kingston, NY

Hive and Hue, University City Arts League, Philadelphia, PA


Against Gravity: TECTONICS - Imagined Spaces: Doral Contemporary Art Museum DORCAM/Collection Suites collaboration, Doral, FL

Woodmere Annual 77th Jury Exhibition, Philadelphia, PA

Things Fall Apart, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA

Art and Love [Arte y El Amor], Taller Boricua, New York, NY

BLAM Projects, Brooklyn, NY

Borderless Caribbean, Haitian Cultural Arts, Alliance, Miami, FL

Woodmere Annual 74th Juried Exhibition, The Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Flight Plan: Drawings on Paper and Leaf: Henry Bermudez, Michelle Marcuse, Denise Bibro Fine Art, New York, NY

Apollonian|Dionysian: The Constraints of Freedom, The Painted Bride, Philadelphia, PA

Current|Approaching: InLiquid Turns 15, bahdeebahdu, Philadelphia, PA

Cosmobilities, Rowan University Art Gallery, Glassboro, NJ

Sum of Parts: Art Exhibit of work by Henry Bermudez and Michelle Marcuse, Leonard Perlstein Gallery, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Works on Paper show, LGTripp Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Good Vibrations, Gallery Ehva, Provincetown, MA

21st national Drawing and Print Exhibition, Gormley Gallery, College of Notre Dame, Balto, MD

Premiere Exhibition: Fourteen gallery artists from the Philadelphia region, LGTripp Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Annual Works on Paper Show, Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ

The Urban Show, Inliquid 10th Anniversary, Philadelphia, PA

the (dark) show, StrataSphere Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

New American Paintings, The Open Studios Press, Juried Exhibition in Print, Mid-Atlantic Edition

Absolutely Abstract, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA

68th Annual Juried Exhibition, Woodmere Endowment Fund Memorial Prize, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA
Juror Stephen Talasnik

Betsy Meyer Memorial Exhibition, The Main Line Art Center, Haverford, PA
Juror: Sueyun Locks

Into Intuituition: Towards a Redefinition, The University Gallery at Salisbury, Salisbury, MD

Pink at Perkins: The Contradictory Character of a Complex Color, Perkins Center for the Arts, Collingswood, NJ

Surface and Beyond: Artists working with the Textural Possibilities of Wax, Ruth Morpeth Gallery, Hopewell, NJ

Painters in Progress: The Process of Painting, Strata Sphere, Philadelphia, PA

Third Annual Invitational Exhibition, Pfenninger Gallery, Lancaster, PA

Oil + Wax, Chapter & Verse, Community Art Center, Beverly Roman Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ

Remix: Wax and the Intuitive Process, Williamsport College of Technology, Williamsport, PA

The Natural World Unveiled, The Art Gallery at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Wynnewood, PA

Wired Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

Art in City Hall 1984 – 2005, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Immense & Intimate, The Phoenixville Art Center, Phoenixville, PA

Art of the State, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA

Oil + Wax, Chapter & Verse, Community Art Center, Wallingford, PA

Oil + Wax, Chapter & Verse, Siano Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

9 artists, The Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Inner Circles, The Sharadin Art Gallery, Kutztown, PA and The Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA
Traveling exhibition

Surface, Matter & Artifice: Contemporary Works by Encaustic Artists, Dutchess Community College, Poughkeepsie, NY

The Future in Wax, Whitaker Center, Harrisburg, PA

Whole Ball of Wax
, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL

In Depth, The Main Line Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

Art of the State, Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA

Bio-Tech, InLiquid at DaVinci Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
Juried Exhibition

Non-Objective Art, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Snyderman Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Undercurrent: Manipulation of Form, The Gayle Willson Gallery, Southampton, NY

Images in Wax: Contemporary Encaustic, The Karl Drerup Art Gallery, Plymouth, NH

Abstract, The Wallingford Art Center, Media, PA

Organic, InLiquid at the The Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

The 2nd Taegu International Textile Design Competition, Taegu, Korea

The Leeway Foundation Awards for Women in the Arts, The Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA

African Presence – Visual Activism in Philadelphia, African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA

1 Screen, 2 Souls, 4 Hands, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Artist's Bibliography

Weaver, A.M., "3 Artists, Many Stories – The 39th Annual Wind Challenge Art Exhibition," Artblog, September 28, 2016

Artblog radio, interview with Roberta Fallon, Artblog editor in chief

3 Artists, Many Stories - The 39th Annual Wind Challenge Art Exhibition, Artblog

“Present Tense; David Foss and Michelle Marcuse at Siano Gallery,” The Inferno, Millville, NJ, fall 2007

Fabbri, Anne, “The joy of existence in Old City,” Broad Street Review, September 15, 2007

Farrell, Pamela, “Dave Foss & Michelle Marcuse at Gallery Siano,” Artblog, September 14, 2007

Romaniello, Vincent, “A Grand Finale,” Romanblog, August 24, 2007

Rice, Robin, “See ya, Siano,” The City Paper, August 21, 2007

Sozanski, Edward, “Glories of Wax,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, July 29, 2005

Slupe, Ellen, “Art of the State Shows Pennsylvania’s Best,” Art Matters, Philadelphia, PA, August issue, Pg. 11

“Oil and Wax, Chapter & Verse,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, May 15, 2005

Williams Vance, Donna, ‘Hive’ at the Arts League, Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia, PA, August 13, 2004

Fallon, Roberta, “Mood Processor,” Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia, PA

University City Review, August 2004

Sablove, Ricki, “360 Degrees of Unity,” Alternative Central, Harrisburg, PA

Gehman, Geoff, ‘Inner Circles’ exhibit stretches and burns, The Morning Call, Allentown, PA, February 12, 2004

Lewis, Zachary, “Art to bring you full circle,” The Patriot News, Harrisburg, PA, July 18, 2004

Baver, Kristin, “Modern art comes full circle,” The Keystone, Kutztown, PA

Slupe, Ellen, “Art of the State in Harrisburg,” Art Matters, Philadelphia, PA, August, p. 15

Higgins, Edward, “Lifestyles, Freedom of expression,” Artphile, Philadelphia, PA

“Abstract Art in City Hall: Exhibit,” Home News (Art Museum Area), Philadelphia, PA, April 11, 2002

Fallon, Roberta, “ART,” Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia, PA, April 10, 2002


Studio Visit Magazine 2017/2017 Winter Edition

Rooney, E. Ashley, forward by Charles Yoder, 100 Artists of the Mid-Atlantic, Schiffer Publication

New American Paintings, Juried Exhibition in Print – 15 Year edition, The Open Studios Press

New American Paintings, Mid-Atlantic, The Open Studios Press, juried exhibition in print
Juror: Jenelle Porterfrom, Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania

Professional Experience

Deconstructing Structures, Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA

Instructor, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Instructor, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA

Instructor, Main Line Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

Instructor, Moore College of Art, Career symposium, Philadelphia, PA

Instructor, Howard Pyle Studios, Wilmington, DE

Instructor, Chester Springs Studios, Chester Springs, PA

Instructor, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS

Visiting Artist, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, CA

Instructor, Plymouth State College, Plymouth, NH

Instructor, Irvine Valley College, Irvine, CA

Instructor, Illinois State University Visiting Artist Program, Normal, IL

Awards and Honors

Full Scholarship to Vermont Studio Center Residency, Johnson, VT

Jurors Award, 21st National Drawing and Print Exhibition, Gormley Gallery, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

Jurors Award, Works On Paper, Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ

First Prize, Absolutely Abstract, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA

Woodmere Endowment Fund Memorial Prize, 68th Annual Juried Show, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA

The Greater Harrisburg Arts Council First Prize in painting, Harrisburg, PA

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant, Harrisburg, PA

The Leeway Foundation, Honorable Mention in Fiber Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Residencies & Visiting Artists

Artist Residency, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship Award, Johnson, VT

The Perkins Center for The Arts, Collingswood, NJ

Visiting Artist, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, CA

Penn College of Technology, Williamsport, PA

Visiting Artist, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, CA

Visiting Artist, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, CA

Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA

Illinois State University, Normal, IL


Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Philadelphia, PA
Coventry First, Fort Washington, Philadelphia, PA
The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA
R&F Handmade Paints Inc., Kingston, NY
The Bangkok Collection, Cultural Fiber, United States Embassy, Bangkok, Thailand

Past Committees

Art Advisory committee for Taller Puertorriqueno, Philadelphia, PA
Art advisory committee for the Art in City Hall program, Philadelphia, PA


2010 - present
HOUSE Gallery Co-director with Henry Bermudez, Fishtown, PA


Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA

Michaelis School of Art, Cape Town, South Africa

The Shenkar College of Fashion and Textile Technology, Tel Aviv, Israel