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Excerpts from her interview with writer Nikki Grattan published online by San Francisco based In The Make

We visited Marie in her bright and airy Portland studio in an industrial area right near the Willamette RiverOne of Marie’s main preoccupations in her work is the exploration of the complex and elusive world of memory Using a variety of materials besides stone, she creates mixed media pieces that bring both personal and collective memory and meaning to the forefront to provoke a collision of time, emotions, and space.

Lacing Atropos Pneuma, Marie SivakOne of the most magical aspects of Marie’s work is how she has combined video with stone sculpture— her piece “Memoir” is a great example in which video is projected onto an alabaster carving of a book, and so it appears as if a woman is writing from inside the book. Another of her more recent sculptures “Floating Remnants” reveals a new direction. In this piece a bee is projected from within the stone, creating luminosity and a buzzing, building, moody atmosphere.

Marie’s work is like that— it builds up quickly within you and around you, initially entering softly, light-hued and fragile despite the weight of its materiality, despite the heaviness of its ideas…”

“How would you describethe content of your work?”

My work provides a poetic and analytical platform where objects and environments act as portals through which we may access the world of the sublime. I seek to reunite the intellect with the emotions; to know intangible ideas by giving them concrete form. The focus of my recent and current projects has been the psychology of memory and language as well as the role of the individual’s experience within society; how personal experience has greater cultural implications… Floating Remnants or the Lingering Sting, Marie Sivak

...I believe personal experience brings an incredible amount of honesty to art. I’m not saying that every single thing that happens to a person is of interest to the rest of the world, just that allowing oneself to be driven by personal life experience involves risk. Anyway,I’ve gotten to a point where I just feel like, “Well, I’m not turning back now.

Floating Remnants or the Lingering Sting (Detail) Marie Sivak“What mediums do you work with?”

The juxtaposition of materials creates the grammar of my work: salt and organza, hematite and silk, rare earth magnets, stainless steel, thick layers of graphite and ink on paper, video and stone I often use nylon organza with different forms of stainless steel to create flaccid structural systems. My intuitive process resembles the form finding approach of architects such as Antoni Gaudi Most recently I have been mildly obsessed with combining video and stone sculpture…

“How do you think your wide array of materials and mediums benefits your work?”

I think the work is richer conceptually because of the media I use. In the last 10 years I have been fascinated by the conceptual and expressive possibilities of combining video with traditionally carved stone objects. The power of the hand worked object, the labor that resides in the carved object can be felt physically by the viewer. I think people have a kinesthetic response to objects that have been touched so much by the hand. But I also love technology, not for technology’s sake but for what it can bring to the experience of the work. The real-time of video and the option of being spontaneous that this medium offers is a counterpoint to the lengthy labor of crafting objects. I can draw from Renaissance and Baroque sculpture while also responding to the history of film and performance art.

“You have said that hand-made objects are “magical tools for understanding the human condition.” Can you please further explain this notion?”

“It is not just the hand-made; it is the hand-made combined with technology that allows me to use sculpture as a way of contemplating experience and relating it to greater philosophical concerns…One of my recent works called Memoir (is about) feeling a sense of remoteness and intimacy while reading a book. The piece collapses the experiences of writing and reading into one instant, compressing time and space. The page of the book is both a window and a barrier. It explores the need to write one’s memories and thoughts even if they don’t survive. It is also about the human desire to create and put oneself (literally or not) into a work of art…

“What influences outside the visual arts inspire and impact your approach…?”

“Reading has always been an important influence on my work. I love novels that explore ideas as experienced through the structure of the imagined experienceI just finished two great books by Ivan Doig…The Sea Runners and The Whistling Season. I like stories about ordeal or a journey where the landscape is described to a point of meditation. While perhaps not always overtly a part of my work, landscape, especially that of the Pacific Northwest influences what I do. I love hiking and exploring new landscapes; it’s a part of my creative processScience is another topic that greatly influences my work (as well as) digital tools and machine technology.”

“What does having a physical space to make art in mean for your process?”

Having a space that reflects my thoughts, a room that is a metaphor for my own mind is essentialI need to see my work and have a place where I can shut the door and reclaim my autonomy of thought from the everyday demands of my job and my life.

Memoir detail, Marie Sivak“Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting…?”

About 10 years ago I began thinking of ways in which I could incorporate video with stone sculpture. “Pneuma” and “Memoir” combine video with alabaster, a translucent stone. When video is projected onto the stone the stone absorbs (and transmits) some of the light resulting in the sense that the imagery is illuminated from within…

“The most recent sculptures (“Floating Remnants”, “Vicious”, and “Aftermath”) represent a new direction. In these works the video imagery projects from within the sculpture, through the stone, onto its surface. Embedding video inside the sculptures is technically challenging, time and labor intensive, but its conceptual and expressive magic makes it hard to resist. Video rendered through stone is transfigured into gentle, luminous gestures…” "Aftermath", Video, Carved Stone, Steel, Marie Sivak

“How do you navigate the art world?”

Well, I do my work, I apply for shows. I am especially dependent on grants. This might sound odd, but I actually enjoy writing grants…The process helps me pin down my goals and subject matter. More recently I have been far more proactive in getting my work out there. I just received last year, Career Opportunity Grants from The Oregon Arts Commission and The Ford Family Foundation…which I used to produce a 24 page full color catalog of my work with an essay by Charlotta Kotik, Curator Emerita, The Brooklyn Museum... It took me a long time to understand what is important to me as an artist and to feel ready to seek more visibility; the work comes first. (It’s really important) to bring people in the art world into my studio, to have a dialogue, and to be part of this experiment that is contemporary art.

“Words of wisdom?
“Don’t give up.”     “If you are not being rejected; you are not trying hard enough.”

For the original interview and to learn more about Marie’s work visit:

Marie  recently received  Career Opportunity Grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and The Ford Family Foundation and a RACC Professional Development Grant to participate in the curatorial project Momentum: Women/Art/Technology,  January 20th-April17th, 2015 at Rutgers University in New Jersey.