Jamaica Plain Open Studios Gallery
Collage was not a path Marnie Jain chose but a medium that she came to by accident. Consequently, over the past seven years, she has used magazine cuttings of color as her “paint” to create figurative images and scenes of her own imagining. Not formally educated in art she has taken art classes here and there throughout her life, largely through local adult education centers. Flora and fauna have long been the subject of her works, which she attributes to her childhood in rural New Jersey, where she spent much time outdoors, catching frogs or fireflies, observing insects, and tending to wild birds. Nature is abundant but often hidden by camouflage or stillness. In her collages, Marnie offers layers of discovery to mimic the way one might naturally notice additional detail when peering toward the brush. She likes to draw the viewer in using both readily visible as well as obscured images. The limitations in collage materials are a create opportunity. From a fashion magazine, the blue of a woman’s jeans can be part of a bird’s wings. In all of her creatures, the eyes are pieced from inanimate sources such as the reflection on kitchen pots. Collage has become second nature to Marnie, making it difficult to look through a magazine without seeing creatures emerge from the pages. It is reminiscent of watching clouds as a child and seeing animals appear and depart as they float across the sky. In many ways, collage allows her the space to let go of the confined adult world and to play. While her skills have been honed over years of practice, at a basic level, Marnie does the same thing that any child would do: cut, glue, repeat. The elements that she brings to collage as an adult are largely in the subject and juxtaposition. Marnie enjoys contradictions. As an example, the soft bodies of her rabbits are often created with images of a hard material such as wood. She uses visual dissonance in collages, such as creating a grasshopper that appear larger than a building. She finds it appealing to create ambiguity, such as dark areas or animals and insects that are not fully defined. While she approaches her work with intention, she believes that a collage knows where it wants to go, what it wants to become. In her poppy collage (Sky Wild), the bee, that might normally go unnoticed as a small insect among the vibrant reds, decided to fly forward and present himself as the primary focus. The elements of her work, from colors to objects, all have a voice in the process. Her challenge as the artist is to listen to what they say. As she listens and pieces her collages, tales develop. Her mind occupies itself with imagined contexts and story lines that go beyond the image, so that the finished collage is a snapshot to a larger story that the canvas cannot capture. The act of creating is the act of communicating, which makes it essential that she continuously develop new pieces and stories. Her collages are an invitation to view spaces and objects that exist along the edges where we might not readily gaze or venture near.