web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » Sections » Arts »

Listening To The Paint’s Music: Marilyn Banner’s Encaustics

Share Button

My Space on 7th, Non-juried,


Group Exhibition, 50 Local Artists


Touchstone Gallery


406 7th Street NW 2nd Floor, Washington, DC


http://www.touchstonegallery.com


 


Marilyn Banner’s encaustic painting “Listening” (2008) at first appears to be ironically titled. One would expect a painting with that name to be calm and pretty, with pastel colors and an aura that would be compatible with a hospital’s waiting room. Instead, “Listening” is a very dramatic work, with thick paint, bold strokes, and text that seems cut violently into the surface in some areas, and smeared elsewhere almost to erasure.


 


The square painting could be interpreted as a flag or a landscape with deep-blue mountains and a body of water, but if it does depict a natural setting, a storm has already begun to overcome the landscape. What relevance could the term “listening have to such a loud and overbearing piece?

 

 



“Listening” 2008. Encaustic on wood, 12×12.” Courtesy of Marilyn Banner.


 

                     


As Banner describes it, she created the work while listening to a “beautiful” tune, “In the Garden of Shechina” by songwriter Hannah Tiferet Siegel. Then, in residence at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts for the eighth time, Banner wrote the text of the first two verses of Siegel’s song onto “Listening,” which is one of 24 pieces of hers that recently hung at the Touchstone Gallery in Washington. Siegel’s verses read as follows:


 


Born from the earth


Breathed by the air


Healed in the water


Kindled with prayer,


I walk through the fiery sword of truth


And listen


With all my heart.


 


I am the Tree of Life


In the Garden of Shechina


Singing a psalm of wonder and love


Ki hi m’kor habracha [because it is the source of blessing].


 


After examining the text, viewers can begin to approach the work with a different sort of listening – perhaps the kind the prophet Elijah came to practice.


 


In the Book of Kings I (Chapter 19), just after he defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel when a divine fire came down to consume his sacrifice and just after he prophesized that rain would finally come to the famine-struck region, Elijah found himself fleeing for his life from Ahab and his wife Jezebel. In the desert, Elijah grew so hungry that he was ready to give up his life, much as Jonah had desired when the sun bore down too heavily on him outside Nineveh. But an angel directed Elijah to eat, and he then encountered the Divine Presence on a mountain.


 


Like much of the prophetic experience, Elijah’s encounter with G-d carried a strong aesthetic component. First a powerful wind struck the mountains and decimated the rocks. Then, an earthquake struck, after which a fire appeared and scorched whatever had survived the wind and the quake. But, the Torah explains, G-d was not in the wind, the rocks, or the fire. Instead, G-d’s voice came in a form that was not pretentious and dramatic: a “kol d’mamah dakah,” a thin, soft voice.


 


Elijah came to see that divinity and greatness were not necessarily embedded in loud noise (neither rock concerts nor construction workers’ drilling seem to have a monopoly on theology). It is possible to “listen” to Banner’s painting and hear a soft, beautiful song emerge even from the expressionistic and stormy surface.


 


In fact, even Banner’s materials involve a complicated process that is both bold and soft.


Encaustic paintings are very different from standard oil paintings, in which the artist simply puts brush to canvas and adds marks. Encaustic, which is an ancient technique that has often been employed in a religious context, essentially involves taking wax, often beeswax, with pigments mixed into it and layering it on the canvas.


 


The painter also uses damar (sometimes called dammar gum), a resin binding agent that hardens the materials and holds them together. The wax, the brushes, the paint, and the surface must remain warm throughout the process, and the layers of paint must be close to 200 degrees to “stick” to the other layers. Given the elaborate technique, Banner not only included the song text in her work, she actually wrote it into wax.


 


The 24-piece series at Touchstone is called “I Listen with All My Heart.” In her artist’s statement, Banner says the entire series is “based on my response to being in nature and listening to music.” The series is hung together on one wall as an installation in the far corner of the gallery.

 

 



“Serious”  Encaustic on wood, 12×12.” Courtesy of Marilyn Banner.


 

 


Over e-mail, Banner elaborated on the series. “It is about connection to the earth and spirituality, as you can probably tell,” she said. “I may have written out the whole poem in there, but as I work kind of in a trance, I don’t really remember. Whatever came out of my hand is what’s in there, some buried, some visible. It was as if my heart was singing it and the words just went into the paint.” She added that “it’s one of those things that when a group sings together, you’re on another plane.”


 


Banner is not just an artist who paints music. She is also co-founder and co-director of Washington “Musica Viva,” a musical, poetic, and visual art performance series, which she began in her studio in Kensington, Maryland. She was also the regional coordinator of the national organization, No Limits for Women in the Arts, as well as a board member of the DC board of the Women’s Caucus for Art.


 


The pieces in “I Listen with All My Heart” relate to these other experiences through the inclusion of texts and references to Banner’s life, early music experience, and poetry. “Serious,” “Dance of Joy,” and “Blue Sound” all reference music directly. In “Serious,” a young girl playing a violin is so immersed in her music that she closes her eyes. The background is a mixture of cool blues and greens, and except for a few carefully placed black outline marks, it is difficult to tell where the girl ends and the background begins. Banner has also added a G-clef and musical notes in black, so the girl’s left side and left arm merge with the lines of music. Both performer and music have become one within the painting, just as they are literally fused together in wax.

 

 



“Blue Sound” 2005. Encaustic on panel, 11×14.” Courtesy of Marilyn Banner.


 

 


“Blue Sound” swaps the performer for four cellos (one in relief). Banner has “written” the words “The Sound” over two of the instruments, and about 10 scores of sheet music are visible in the background. The forms of the scores mirror the strings on the cellos, and the entire surface of the paintings seems like it could yield a sound if it were plucked or played.


 


In “Dance of Joy,” viewers can discern two musical scores, but the piece is much less literal than “Serious” or “Blue Sound.” The painting reads as a landscape, perhaps a jungle scene, with thick tree trunks and thick foliage. In the right side of the work, an outlined figure dances with head thrown back and arms raised. The figure wearing a dress, has a musical score vertically written across her body, and is perhaps a self-portrait or even a personification of music herself. As in “Serious” and “Blue Sound,” Banner’s composition in “Dance of Joy” defies conventional approaches to foreground and background. The figure encroaches on the setting, and the setting engulfs the figure.

 

 



“Dance of Joy” 2006. Encaustic on wood, 9×11.” Courtesy of Marilyn Banner.




Although Banner probably had neither Elijah nor the prophetic experience in mind when she created the series, the model of the soft voice emerging from the storm proves a good model for engaging her work, even her more “realistic” works like her other series on angels and messengers (including several versions of the burning bush), the “Song of Songs,” “The Presence of Spirit,” and “Soul Ladders.” Banner’s uses the medium to her advantage to not only metaphorically show connections between the physical and the spiritual, but also to literally bond the two together in hot wax.

 


For more information on Marilyn Banner and her work, visit her website, http://marilynbanner.com/.


 


MENACHEM WECKER welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, residing in Washington, DC.

Share Button

About the Author: Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Listening To The Paint’s Music: Marilyn Banner’s Encaustics”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The interior of the El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, Tunisia, in 2009.
Tunisian Jew Stabbed in Djerba
Latest Sections Stories
Tali Hill, a beneficiary of the Max Factor Family Foundation.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas’s deans, Rabbi Moshe Katz and Rabbi Zev Goldman, present award to Educator of the Year, Rabbi Michoel Paris.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

Your husband seems to have experienced what we have described as the Ambivalent Attachment.

The goal of the crusade is to demonize and hurt Israel.

The JUMP program at Hebrew Academy was generously sponsored by Evelyn and Dr. Shmuel Katz.

More Articles from Menachem Wecker
Menachem Wecker

The exhibit, according to a statement from guest curator Michele Waalkes which is posted on the museum website, “examines how faith can inform and inspire artists in their work, whether their work is symbolic, pictorial, or textual in nature. It further explores how present-day artwork can lead audiences to ponder God, religious themes, venerated traditions, or spiritual insights.”

Weck-051812

It all started at an art and education conference at the Yeshiva University Museum. When one of the speakers misidentified a Goya painting at the Frick Collection, both the gentleman sitting next to me and I turned to each other and corrected the error simultaneously.

One of my favorite places when I was growing up in Boston was the used bookstore on Beacon and St. Mary’s streets. Boston Book Annex could play a used bookshop on television; it was dimly lit and cavernous, crawling with cats, and packed with a dizzying array of books, many of which sold three for a dollar. But used bookstores of this sort, however picturesque and inviting, are a relatively modern phenomena. In the Middle Ages, for example, I would never have been able to afford even a single used book unless I had been born into an aristocratic family. (Full disclosure, I was not.)

Jewish medals, several with Hebrew inscriptions and provocative imagery, were among the gems at The European Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, Netherlands, as I wrote in these pages two weeks ago. Another mini-trend at the fair, which will interest Jewish art aficionados, was an abundance of works by Marc Chagall.

It’s virtually impossible to ignore the financial aspects of TEFAF Maastricht, the annual arts and antiques fair in the historic city about two hours south of Amsterdam. More than 250 dealers from nearly 20 countries sell their wares—which span from Greek and Roman antiquities to contemporary sculptures—in the halls of the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre, whose corridors are adorned by nearly 65,000 tulips.

Max Ferguson’s 1993 painting Katz’s may be the second most iconic representation of the kosher-style delicatessen after the 1989 Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan film, When Harry Met Sally. Ferguson’s photorealistic painting depicts the deli from an interesting perspective, which is simultaneously inviting and hostile—in short, the dichotomy of deli culture.

The whole idea of an artful pushka (tzeddakah or charity box) is almost a tease, if not an outright mockery. Isn’t there something pretty backward about investing time and money in an ornate container to hold alms for the poor?

Located about nine miles north of Madrid, the Palacio Real de El Pardo (Pardo Palace) dates back to the early 15th century. Devastated by a March 13, 1604 fire that claimed many works from its priceless art collection, the Pardo Palace and its vast gardens were used as a hunting ground by the Spanish monarchs.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/listening-to-the-paints-music-marilyn-banners-encaustics/2008/08/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: