Benefit 2020 Auction Items: Michelle Marcuse’s ‘Erosion’

Can playing around with spatial relationships really convey the subjugation of a large swaths of populations? Can altering space, crushing it or limiting it, create a portrait of pain and suffering?  Architecture plays with space by capturing the light, guiding our flow of movement through it, adding flourishes that make us pay attention to beauty and thus seeks to both shape and echo the way we live our lives. Similarly, art installations and sculpture, by their very nature addressing spatial relations, have the power to speak volumes about the world in which we live. Spaces in general speak to the notions of constraints or freedom of movement, of sunshine or darkness, or crowded or vast, and of inviting or forbidding.  So it seems that the idea of space can serve as the perfect metaphor for a society that is unhinged, such as South Africa during apartheid.

Erosion, Michelle Marcuse

Michelle Marcuse runs with this metaphor in her potent work, entitled The Erosion, a 1/1 digital print with intervention, measuring 29” x 36” x3”. As she states: “My formative years were marked by the elitism of the South African Apartheid system and witnessing of a silent majority struggling to exist within a state of humiliation.” The duress of a country, and the mirrored agony of the individual, is evident in the amalgam of ladders, equipment generally used to climb upward in space. Ladders are literally and metaphorically a conduit to a higher position, to a better view, and to rarified air. Instead, in this case they are mashed together, incomplete, or rendered useless. And it’s not just each individual ladder that is twisted and broken, but a crush of deformed broken metal, a lump of mangled detritus that as the title suggests seems to be in the process of eroding, as land erodes and the edges of continents fall the water. It’s not even a three- dimensional sculptural piece, but a two-dimensional photographic representation of a three- dimensional work, further compressing an already unnaturally flattened image. The ideas of lack of mobility, being stuck, having no recourse, being lumped together in chaos, seem to cry out from the broken, twisted, black and white ladders in the work. That’s quite a formidable message, fashioned merely from a photo of mangled metal hanging out in space.

Marcuse received a Bachelor of Design from Shenkar College, Israel (1982). She studied at Michaelis School of Art at University of Cape Town (1983) and completed her BFA at Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia (1985). Her work can be found at the USA Embassy of Bangkok, Thailand, the University of Notre Dame, Baltimore, MD, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art collection. She lives and works in Philadelphia where she is Co-Director of HOUSE Gallery, a mixed- use exhibition space in Fishtown.

Through abstract geometric paintings, Philadelphia artist Melinda Steffy translates music into color patterns, exploring ideas of translation, information and data, and how music weaves throughout human experience. Melinda Steffy’s RUINATION DAY series (acrylic on wood panel) deconstructs folk and blues songs that reference the date April 14, which is when Lincoln was shot, the Titanic hit the iceberg, and the Black Sunday dust storm devastated the Midwest. Melinda Steffy’s BACH PROJECT series (watercolor on paper) converts classical music by J.S. Bach and Bela Bartok into grids and pie charts. Rather than hear one note after the other through time, the paintings show all of the notes and rhythms simultaneously on one visual plane.
Melinda Steffy
Melinda Steffy

Through abstract geometric paintings, Philadelphia artist Melinda Steffy translates music into color patterns, exploring…

Through abstract geometric paintings, Philadelphia artist Melinda Steffy translates music into color patterns, exploring ideas of translation, information and data, and how music weaves throughout human…

Through abstract geometric paintings, Philadelphia artist Melinda Steffy translates music into color patterns, exploring ideas of translation, information and data, and how music weaves throughout human experience. Melinda…

Christy E. O’Connor
Christy E. O’Connor
Ruth Miller's contemporary realistic work pulls inspiration from the urban world around her. Drawing on the realism of nature and social
Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller

Ruth Miller's contemporary realistic work pulls inspiration from the urban world around her. Drawing on the realism of nature…

Ruth Miller's contemporary realistic work pulls inspiration from the urban world around her. Drawing on the realism of nature and social …

Ruth Miller's contemporary realistic work pulls inspiration from the urban world around her. Drawing on the realism of nature and social …

Laurie Berenhaus
Laurie Berenhaus
My art is a hybrid of the figurative and the abstract.The satire and cartoon imagery of my youthful artwork began to evolve as I grew more familiar with German Expressionism, American Social Realism and Abstract Expressionism. The sketches of people drawn from life that I do almost daily provide constant fodder for my humorous paintings, drawings and prints. My work is a synthesis of humor and fine art. I am quite serious about being silly. My goal is to create art that is sown from the depths of comic outrageousness, satirical observation and mild misanthropy. If Matisse had the “sun in his belly," I have a banana peel permanently attached to my shoe!
Ellen Lana Abraham
Ellen Lana Abraham

My art is a hybrid of the figurative and the abstract.The satire and cartoon imagery of my youthful artwork began to evolve…

My art is a hybrid of the figurative and the abstract.The satire and cartoon imagery of my youthful artwork began to evolve as I grew more familiar with German Expressionism, American Social Realism and…

My art is a hybrid of the figurative and the abstract.The satire and cartoon imagery of my youthful artwork began to evolve as I grew more familiar with German Expressionism, American Social Realism and Abstract Expressionism.…

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