Sunday, January 31, 2010

Before I Knew Marxy, I Knew his Work

As a freshman, I played Peter in a Lincoln Community Playhouse production of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe." The Playhouse often exhibits professional artwork, and I took the opportunity to admire their galleries whenever I was there. However, it was one of their permanent works that never failed to intrigue me.

It's important to know what the walls of the Playhouse look like, since they inspired the piece. The white walls are not flat; vertical grooves around three inches deep line the Playhouse's entrance. The artwork is an extension of these walls, pushing forward in space and interrupting the nice, repeating pattern. The work also features mirrors arranged into a wave-like pattern. As different people mill about the theater, the mirrors constantly reflect shifting, distorted shapes of color. It never looks exactly the same way twice.

I could just stand and stare at that thing and lose track of time, slightly perplexed by it's meaning, but always intrigued by it's forceful presence.

Imagine my surprise, years later, to learn that it was Marxhausen who created this work!

Furthermore, as I learned more about Marxhausen's worldview and understanding of art, the mysterious work finally began to make sense. Marxy loved to take walks in nature, and study how things changed as time passed and the light changed.

To demonstrate how dramatically objects' appearances can change, Marxhausen took photos of a seemingly dull subject in his house: a plain white kitchen cupboard. On different mornings, he would photograph the same cabinet from the same angle, but it never looked quite the same in each photo. The light struck the handles differently each morning, and the variety of the dark shadows and the reflected light was something remarkably beautiful.

Light changes things, even simple things we’re confronted with every day. There’s beauty in the changes light brings about: there’s so many interesting things to see in a day. There’s never any reason to get bored with your surroundings, whether you’re in an office building or on a farm. You have to work at seeing. It must be an aggressive act of visual curiosity. Things are always changing, so you have to learn to see things as they are right now. Combinations and relationships of form, colors, textures, and lines. When you try to see things this way, no matter where you are you can be rewarded with moments of unexpected joy during the day.

(Marxhausen speaking in an interview for A Time to See)

That's the appeal of his art at the Playhouse. Rather than creating something static and unchanging, Marxy created a non-objective work of art which mimics nature: it is always changing.

Imagine, before I even knew who Marxhausen was, his work was already helping me see the world in a new light. That's the mark of a gifted artist.

- Duncan

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Writer

Greetings! I'm honored to be contributing to this wonderful site.

Amber Konz, the founder of this blog, is a remarkable person, and has been a mentor for younger art students at Concordia, myself included.

Like Amber, I have learned a great deal from Marxhausen, even though I arrived at Concordia years after his retirement. The more I learn about Marxy, the more he impresses me with his wisdom, his artist's eye, and his ability to witness his faith through his art.