Holding On, Letting Go: Mother and Child
This is the second collection in my series Holding On, Letting Go. While the first collection emanated from my archive of black and white negatives and photographs, I’ve now turned to art historical paintings as inspiration. In Mother and Child, I’m at once artist; photographer; curator; designer; and (re)interpreter of art history, myth, and iconography. My interest is in exploring this primary archetypal relationship through the ages, by focusing on indelible, formative moments as created by painters. Moments of Holding On and Letting Go.
Since the beginning of time, artists have drawn and painted images to tell stories and to make real the ineffable. Despite the fact that many early works of art were created as objects of devotion for a perceived God or life force, the images are fundamentally depictions of people or deities in relationship. And while many of the artists who came before me were commissioned by the Church to create paintings in service to religion, the connection I feel to these working artists is seamless. In essence, we share the same experience: The act of creating images helps us to make sense of our existence and the existence of our fellow men. It helps us to create a dialogue and to connect. In the act of looking at images, we surrender, awash with empathy. We identify with one another, space and time between us dissolve. One only needs to ponder for a moment the fact that many of our ancient human ancestors (the Venitian women in Bellini’s Sacra Conversazione, 1490, for example), chose to stand in as biblical figures, models for great painters to immortalize.
Both painting and photography reflect the very human impulse to create, compose, and capture moments in time. But it is photography which allows me to uniquely evoke the passage of time and the force of memory. I use the medium of photography – negative imagery merging with positive imagery – to literally connect the past with the present. At the heart of my work is the bond between humans, made manifest by the connection between human hands, the sense of touch. The embrace, the grasp, or the caress between hands is like a current of energy reaching backward in time to a formative, binding moment.
There are more layers to this work that relate to hands: By selectively hand-painting parts of my images, combining a black and white world with a versicolored world, I continue to dissolve the lines between the realms of photography and painting. And those are my hands, holding onto fictitious, constructed books of art historical paintings.
In creating these works I continue to dive deep inside of the languages of both painting and photography, to play with color, form, positive and negative tonalities, qualities of light, and notions of time. My experience flows between rediscovery of iconographic images I’ve loved, and discovery of new images brought to life.
~M.J.Bronstein • 2013
Marcie Jan Bronstein has been a working artist for more than 25 years: Making photographs, creating images for other people, leading workshops, receiving commissions, licensing work for publication, and designing photo-based books. At the heart of all of this work lies the photographic medium: “Photography is my first love, and the quest for compelling, mysterious images never ends…” Known for her unique, hand-colored images and her work with the photographic negative, her art is exhibited, published, commissioned, and collected around the world. She lives with her family in a reconstructed barn on the coast of Maine. www.marciejanbronstein.com