Congratulations to Atrium artist Michael Marshall for being included in this week's St. Louis American. Text below.
Last chance to see rare Michael Marshall prints and painting, ‘Abstraction’ at Atrium Gallery closes April 25
By Chris King Of The St. Louis American
This weekend offers the last opportunity to see several new pieces by Michael Marshall, an African-American visual artist from St. Louis, in the exhibition “Abstraction” at Atrium Gallery, 4814 Washington Ave.
The show includes several Marshall mono prints that never been exhibited and a large painting from his earlier career that has rarely been seen, as well as work by Willem de Looper, Annette Morriss, Fredrick Nelson, Kirk Pedersen and John Schwartzkopf.
“I am pleased they are out on view and wish I was there to see the show,” Marshall said from his home in Hilo, Hawaii. “It’s hard to travel for me right now, because I stay so busy here with so many different projects.”
In addition to being a practicing artist in multiple media and an art professor, Marshall has three administrative roles on the Big Island. He chairs the Art Department and the Performing Arts Department at the University of Hawaii Hilo and is executive director of the East Hawaii Cultural Center, a community arts space.
Marshall’s work is abstract, giving pleasure through the interplay of color, figure, layer and texture, while seldom being truly figural – and seldom being named by the artist. Trained as a painter at Yale University, where he earned his MFA in 1977, Marshall was inspired to make mono prints after seeing the sculptor Albert Paley make mono prints during a visit to Hilo.
“I had the idea to do mono prints with different materials to create layered stencils, so things show up in relief when you run them through the press,” Marshall said. “I explored the idea of shade and color in relief relationships.”
He acknowledged an element of chance when running the same print through a press repeatedly, printing in relief from hand-made stencils and varying inks, but once he numbers a print and offers it for view, it is his composition.
“They are not accidents at all, but nor are they predetermined either,” Marshall said. “When I make prints I don’t plan them as finished works, but I have shapes I made that day and colors I set out. I pull six to eight prints per session. I don’t have all successes, but each one helps me make it to the next stage. The prints that make it out of the studio are the ones that upon completion have what I feel is a strong resolution to themselves and can hold up on their own.”
It’s tempting to see figures and imagine little dramas and commentaries in the beautiful layers of colors and forms that Marshall creates using this process, but the artist is not very interested in what observers see in his images and feels no need to guide the viewer by titling his prints. “I don’t title them,” he said. “I don’t think they need titles.”
Atrium Gallery, 4814 Washington Ave. in the Central West End, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and by appointment on Tuesday and Wednesday. “Abstraction” closes April 25. Contact the gallery at (314) 367-1076, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.atriumgallery.net.