Marna Goldstein Brauner
wisconsin academy gallery artist, 2000
wisconsin arts board artist fellowship award winner, 1998
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Artist resides in: Shorewood, WI
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twenty-nine years ago, as a student, I took my first photographs in a cemetery. My graduate work consisted exclusively of cemetery images, most of them incorporated into photoscreenprinted quilts, dealing with the relationship between sleep with death. In the years since, my work has taken many seemingly different directions, but, looking back, I realize that in all of this work I have been dealing with the inevitability of death in some unconscious way. My first trip to Mexico for Day of the Dead six years ago seemed to trigger my passion for cemeteries once again, and I have been collecting my imagery in them ever since.
Originally, I used images that alluded to the "vanitas," still-life paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries that emphasize the aspect of vanity and life's fleeting nature. More and more, however, I have been influenced by the objects that decorate cemeteries, such as statuary and floral wreaths.
My work has taken the form of textile objects in which I modify antique linen handcrafted textiles, such as children's and dolls' clothes, handkerchiefs, doilies, tablecloths, towels, aprons. I have been particularly interested in the layering of my imagery, ornamentation and "notions" onto the history of the original textile, which was usually a lovingly made functional domestic object. My fascination with these objects grows from both the history of their utilitarian function and the original hand worked decoration, part of an anonymous domestic history. I modify them with photographic imagery, either applied with photoscreenprinting or computer inkjet heat transfers. They are then treated to obsessive beading. This attention to repetitive, time-consuming processes emphasizes the preciousness of these pieces as handcrafted objects. Finally, I stiffen each object, both to "freeze" it in an iconic gesture and to emphasize it as an object of display, rather than function.
So, why my fascination with death? Fear--but never morbidity--may motivate it. I am drawn to the statuary as being "stone cold" representatives of flesh. By contrast, the flowers and wreathes are colorful and seemingly alive. Soon they, too, will be withered and gone. Perhaps my work, too, functions as a further memorial to memory and memorialization.
Marna Goldstein Brauner received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1974 and her MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts in 1977. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally in both solo and group shows. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Milwaukee Artists Foundation. Her work has been featured in the book "The Surface Designer's Art" as well as "Fiberarts Magazine" and "The Surface Design Journal." She has taught surface design for 25 years, including eight and one-half years at the University of Kansas and as a one-year visiting artist at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently professor of art at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she has taught for the past 13 years.