A Retrospective exhibition of the work of Marge Widmar, an artist from Westlake, Ohio, was held at the Beth K. Stocker Art Gallery at Lorain Community College February 24 to March 17, 2006. Marge has been enameling for over thirty years, and holds a Masters of Arts in Enameling and Metals from Kent State University, where she studied under Mel Someroski. Below are Marge’s thoughts on art, and how she develops her work.
I have a passion for looking at art and would go almost anywhere to see good art. I have a passion for creating art. And, I have a passion for art of the classroom. Art makes life more beautiful. I am continuously amazed at what students can do with art materials and an idea, and throughout the years, I have experienced many wonderful visual rewards from the classroom.
The Kent State undergraduate Art Education program provided experience in a wide variety of media. The Graduate program then helped me to focus on enamel and metal. In my graduate work with Mel Someroski, an enamelist, fiber, and performance artist, I received training in the art of enamel based on Mel’s work with CIA’s Kenneth Bates. From Mary Ann Scherr, at KSU, I learned the basic techniques in metalsmithing. John Michaels, KSU Industrial Tech Department, shared his wonderful techniques with wood, especially surface finish.
My early work in enamel emerged from my Masters thesis in the technique of Basse Taille, in which an etched metal surface is used as a base for transparent enamels. This surface talked to me. In addition to enameling the surface, I embossed on Arches paper before enameling the metal. This led to embossing on fabrics. Thus the undergraduate art education training in many media influenced exploration in the graduate work. While teaching in the Evening School at the Cleveland Institute of Art, students desired the techniques of cloisonné, thus, my work in cloisonné expanded. And, I found that I loved it.
In the late 1990s, as I was physically unable to work in enamel and metal, I happened to collage my cane. That was the beginning of my exploration of collage and photo montage. Collage and photo montage have been not only interesting but also comfortable media for me in addition to my major work in enamel and metal. The first series resulting from photo montage was an exploration of my favorite places in Cleveland: The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Play House, Severance Hall, and the Cleveland Public Library. Since I am a believer in the value of the arts and how they make life beautiful, my “GET ART” license plate brought about a series of photo montages on vanity license plates that deal with the arts, such as “MAIL ART” and “BOOK ’99”. many are yet waiting to be completed: “K SINGS,” “POETESS,” “K-9 ART,” “BLOSSOM I,” and “RENOIR.”
My work has been inspired by nature, travel, emotions, family, music, people, and art that I experience. One of the most memorable exhibitions that I have ever seen was that of Japanese Packaging at the Cleveland Museum of Art in the early ’80s. The unique, sensitive, and meaningful approach to wrapping objects has been with me ever since. Christo’s extremely unique use of ‘wrapping’ also captures my admiration – experiencing his ‘Gates’ in Central Park was glorious. Permitted photographs from the permanent collection at the wonderful Picasso and Rodin Museums in Paris join up with my GET ART in a photo montage.
Sometimes, it can be the smallest object of the least obvious that can inspire. One of these for me is the feather. It has slowly filtered into my work and seems to continue to reappear. As a child, my oldest brother raised homing pigeons, and I very often found feathers in our yard; beautiful blue grey feathers. I have stood on the steps of the Cathedral in Orvieto, Italy, and had a feather spin down right in front of me and fall upon the steps. That for me was a WOW! Some years later, that feather became part of an enamel.
Gregg Shorthand helped to put me through college as my high school teacher has predicted. I used it in secretarial/stenographer positions for almost four years before I went to college. When a high school friend sent me three books from a Connecticut tag sale, the sensitive, communicative line of shorthand began to emerge in my work. To this day, sometimes I think in shorthand and upon occasion, I have used it in the classroom to make a statement. It always catches students’ attention. For me, it has relevance with the shorthand approach to writing that has emerged with the use of acronyms and elimination of letters in hastily written thoughts in this computer-speeded age.
I am glad for the humor that has emerged in my work. It makes me feel good. I have enjoyed it’s appeal to children. I do not want to hear any more bad news and at this point in my life, I want to laugh, I want to hear happy sounds and good news, and GET MORE ART.