Through parallel practices of drawing and three dimensional construction, artist Marianne Desmarais attempts to alter space through the manipulation of form, optics, and surface. She works with geometry and material characteristics to amplify the relationships between constructive parts, media, and perception.
Marianne Desmarais' work has been featured in Ceramics Monthly, and Pelican Bomb with collaborative work appearing in Azure and FiberArts magazines. Recent solo shows include Polymorphs at Cole Pratt Gallery, samples + patches, an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Transpositions, at Staple Goods Gallery. She has participated in group shows at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Antenna Gallery, and The Front in New Orleans. Her work has traveled internationally with the Imago Mundi collection for the Benetton Foundation and has been shown in venues in New York, Toronto, and Detroit. In 2016, the CAC presented her sculpture Glyphic Figure in a limited edition as the Silver Circle Sculpture.
Collaborative work made with artist Liz Sargent during the Banff Centre New Works Residency is now part of Savannah College of Art and Design's permanent collection in Shanghai. With artist Sarah Kabot she has installed a permanent, large-scale public artwork on the facade of the Westin Downtown, Cleveland, OH.
Born in Gulfport, Mississippi and raised in Florida, Marianne Desmarais lives and works in New Orleans. She holds Masters of Architecture I + II degrees from Tulane University and Cranbrook Academy of Art respectively and has studied abroad at the Edinburgh College of Art. In addition to studio art, she maintains an architectural practice and is a Professor of Practice at the Tulane School of Architecture where she teaches design studio and technology courses.
Mixing art and architectural practices with the practice of living results in improvisational abstraction. To me, lifting the pieces of a child's tiling puzzle from the floor becomes a moment of active looking that transcends my surroundings. The puzzle's rules provide coding for my own interrogative play. The folding and unfolding of its geometry, seeing the edges of the pieces both as structure and line, knit drawing and space together so that my creative impulse relies on my design intuition.
My work moves in response to observation of nuance within complex systems; I am especially interested in the perceptual oscillation that contemplative objects and spatial conditions induce. Fishermen's knots, ancient scholar's stones, and Renaissance intarsia all operate this way, they pulse in and out of scale and form. In experiencing these objects, the sensory systems involved in constructing one's sense of location, orientation, and movement are shifted so that the object occupies multiple scenarios and configurations. The viewer's movement and act of looking allows simultaneous response to meandering details and panoramic expansion to forge a connection between the object and their corporeality.
I aim to alter the normative relationships between body, form, and space and so look to science and mathematics for precepts and actionable rule sets for deployment in the physical world. These systems mix with other influences, conceptual, experiential, and spatial to produce hybrid strategies for experimentation. Specifically, the mechanism of geometry questions shape, size, and the relative position of figures and allows me to transition drawings to objects utilizing space filling techniques. Similar to the behavior of foams and bubble formations, I combine five, congruent polygons serially to create optical shifts and sensual logics where units coalesce into forms that emerge and recede. The work is polymorphic; changes in assemblage yield different physical properties and disruptions to structural geometry yield compositional shifts.
My current focus is on composite textiles made of linen and wood where resistance and collapse can be explored as themes of structural response. The combination of materials, one rigid, one flexible, pushes tessellated planes from flatness to volume. This occurs through hinge points that are both determined and confounded by the interconnecting shapes. The duality of movement and resistance locates temporal stasis in each piece with pinned connections that are capable of multiple configurations. The works reveal that balance is a state between equal and opposing forces where figures aggregate and dissolve with tidal repetition. They renegotiate movement and dimensionality by encouraging static objects to slip and roil within their own boundaries.
Color is applied in single hues to render the relationships in and between forms. Where it coats the front it maintains an interior field where geometry is the emergent operative. Subtle changes occur in color, light, and shadow across each undulating plane. Where the wood is left uncoated, the linen backing is vibrant and casts a chromatic shadow on the wall amplifying contact through a tonal shift. In the seams between shapes, color re-asserts geometry as a line drawing on the surface of each form.
This relationship of formal elements across a loosely defined field reveals ideas of emergence, pattern, and the perceptual whole. Non-determinant edges suggest linkages where forms might join together or have split apart. Working with mutability in mind and courting entropy, I work structures and formal systems into novel propositions that hold the eye and surprise. These interconnecting systems and cellular structures are instinctual and, in a deeply human way, I suspect they are familiar to others.