A powerful cyclone transports us to a magical place of personal vision. With a series of deliciously luminous paintings, Karen Marston’s love affair with paint explores the poetics of seeing and the layers of meaning embedded in our childhood memories and consciousness.
Marston was initially inspired by a visit to the Cao Dai temple in the Mekong Delta built in the 1920’s by a Vietnamese visionary who blended Eastern and Western religious and occult philosophies. The colorful altar with a giant one-eyed globe summoned childhood memories of Frank L. Baum’s Wizard and his throne room, soon her sketches of Vietnam’s monkeys sprouted wings. With these paintings she recasts the Wizard of Oz as her own mediation on life.
While Marston’s process begins with a visual and emotional attraction to place, environment or object, her narrative is always in service to the paint. While traveling in Vietnam, exposed to an entirely other landscape and culture, she experienced a sensation of simultaneous dislocation and familiarity reminiscent of Dorothy’s disorientation in Oz. This tale of a risky journey to a wondrous place filled with damaged characters, provides her with metaphor and framework for her continuing artistic concerns. Regardless of geographic location, concept and emotion fuse with visceral sensation residing within her lush, painterly vocabulary of color, light, gesture and shape.