The March Featured Artist, Marsha Connell, presents works that articulate an artistic evolution initiated in collage and leading to the "Murder of Crows" still-life oil paintings. Connell had long been a painter and sculptor when her daughter, Reba, invited her to make a collage for shared communication while she was having her junior year abroad in Israel, a year that coincided with the first Gulf War. The collages became an unexpected healing process, fueled deeper by a dream of war preparations that suggested she bear witness. The collage "letters without words" to her daughter grew into a series of 150 "Dream Vessels" that speak with a visual vocabulary, like "Vanitas" paintings, symbolically merging awareness of death and the passage of time with the beauty of life.
When words finally came, they emerged from the "dreaming in the day" dance practice of Authentic Movement. The resulting poems were often written in the presence of the collages and arose from a similar place of finding connections among discovered fragments. They accompany the Dream Vessels, but do not describe or explain them.
The arranging and rearranging of found images in collage making laid the groundwork for assembling and staging objects in the "Crow" series. "Spirit birds" and wings play a supporting role in the collages; birds star in the still-life series. "Through this work, I found a way to bring hope together with darkness. Assembling these found images was like taking the broken pieces of the world and putting them back together."
Both the collages and the crow paintings entice the viewer to look closer and follow a path of discovery. The paintings are also homages to other painters, such as "Thinking of Emily Carr." And there is humor, Connell confided, "The longer these crows were in my studio, the more trouble they got into!" evidenced by their activities and positions in the paintings.