Maren Less, MFA 2019

April 3 - 6, 2019

Opening Reception April 5, 6-8pm

Artist Statement

My current installation sets out to manifest myth. No one myth in particular, but rather myth itself, and the role it plays in our collective consciousness. It aims to spark a reaction between the viewer and the work, to evoke feelings of the familiar via figures of the fantastically surreal – in the same way that myth speaks to us in a language of symbols, to present us with worlds and events we have never seen, and to reflect the impulses and drama that exist within and between us all.

The characters and settings I have assembled from cardboard, fabric, mosaic, Papier Mache, paint and tape, function as three dimensional paintings, brought to life by bold color and sharply varying texture. The impish creatures play woodland instruments or are made mischievously mobile, fixed atop the wheels of children’s toys. They assemble together as players in a physical world of bending, towering trees and suspended moons, that is at once haunting yet welcoming, severe yet playful.

The figures take the shape of anthropomorphized animal forms, which are abstracted and recurring throughout, just vaguely recognizable and nearly placeable, like faces from a distant childhood memory or a half-forgotten dream. This uncertain familiarity is meant to enhance the experience of co-existing alongside these figures – figures whose frenzied gestures imply movement while remaining static, whose cacophonous acts suggest sound while remaining silent creating dissonance.

My work is not telling an explicitly definable, comprehensive story; however, it lays the groundwork and begs foundational questions to allow for one. Who are these characters? What is this world and what epic are they acting out? The answers to these questions are perhaps of negligible significance. The work, after all, is an attempt to explore the impulse to ask these questions, to tell these stories, to seek forms to represent them, and to accept the enduring mystery that leaves so many answers just beyond our reach.

This quality of this work is drawn from the archetype of the universal myth, encompassing the most fundamental emotions we share: love, loss, longing and fear. Although myth is no longer embraced by most as living truth, and bears little influence on the way in which we lead our lives, I believe that by forsaking myth, we forsake something larger and deeper within us. We deny a part of ourselves, of the shared human experience. I understand this buried collective consciousness to be the force that was once innate in binding people – to one and other, to themselves, and to the earth. This installation is meant to inhabit the void where myth once resided in the human psyche and to cast light on one’s seemingly lost, but ever enduring connection to themselves, and to the world around them. By bringing form and life to a mystifying interpretation of something that nags at the viewer, that pulls at his or her coattails asking “How do I know you?” and “Why did I forget who you are?”