Monday, December 03, 2007

Art Space Talk: Marilee Salvator

Marilee Salvator is an Assistant Professor of Printmaking and 2-d design at Bloomsburg University. Marilee's work has been exhibited in over 30 exhibitions throughout North America and abroad. She recently had a solo show titled Ring Around The Rosie at SNAP Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta. Other recent exhibitions include Stampa D’ Arte, Fondazione Bevilacquq La Masa, Venice, Italy, Power of Print, Italian Cultural Institute, Italian Embassy, Washington, DC, Global Matrix 2, International Printmaking Exhibition, Robert L. Ringel Gallery and Stewart Center Gallery, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, and International Small Engraving Salon Carbunari 2006 8th edition, Florean Museum, Maramures, Romania.

Stains #2, silkscreen, iron oxide monotype, marker

Brian Sherwin: Marilee, tell us about your educational background. Do you have formal training in art? If so, who were your instructors and how did they influence you?

Marilee Salvator: I have a BFA from Illinois State University and a MFA from University of New Mexico. The most influential professor I had was Sean Caulfiled. He was one of my printmaking teachers at Illinois State University. Sean is a very passionate and prolific person. He loves printmaking and this is very evident in his approach to educating others. As an educator myself now, I try to model my approaches after him.
Circular composition #10 2007, multiple shaped etching plates, polyester lithography, silkscreen

BS: Marilee, tell us about your early artistic influences and experiences. When did you decide to pursue art?

MS: I was highly artistic as a child. At that point in time I don’t know what influenced me, perhaps it was art classes in grade school or a dysfunctional childhood. I saw the world differently than the people around me. When I was making, I was in my own creative world and these differences became irreverent.

I tried to pursue other careers as an adult, due to lack of parental support (my parents, like most parents, were scared about what I would do with such a career). In my early 20’s, while enrolled in an Art Therapy program in Santa Fe NM, I decided to stop fighting it and pursue the one thing that I was always passionate about, fine art.

When I began college, I was confused and a bit all over the place, not really sure what I was suppose to be making or who I was as an individual. When I started asking myself these types of questions and understanding their relevance, my artistic vision began to slowly form. But not before I began the risk of pursuing fine art with all of my being.

Collection #1 2007, shaped etching plates, digital size varies

BS: With that said, how would you say that your work has advanced since that time?

MS: I developed my own vision. My work is constantly evolving. This evolution depends on the current idea I am exploring. I have always been obsessed with process and ritual but I like to think that it has grown to include an element of sophistication and artist focus. I often work with autobiography and feminist issues. The making of my art has allowed me to evolve as a more integrated human being. My focus has become more on the conceptual side rather than the formal, although, I still hold great interest in the latter.

BS: Marilee, is there anything else you would like to tell us about your background in regards to how your art has evolved?

MS: I knew that I had found something that held my interest when I took my first printmaking class. I began working obsessively. Spending all of my time in the studio, always making. I still had no clue what I was making; it was about the act of doing, this intense ritualistic process. Over time, the details were ironed out.

Rain Installation 2002, Lithography, intaglio, relief, wax, thread, velcro right side 8ft x12.5, left side 8ft x 7ft

BS: Can you go into detail about your artistic process? How do you begin a piece? When do you know that a piece is finished?

MS: All of my work begins with an abstract notion. I do not foresee a visual end. It’s more about a larger idea I want to portray to the viewer and then the formal arrangement that occurs through the process. I like to collect data. I will gather things to work with that are related to this idea. For example, when I was working on my rain series, I spent several months recording the New Mexican raindrops on sheets of notebook paper. When it would rain, Id get paper and go outside and let the droplets land on the sheets. I then trace them with a pen or pencil. I gathered all of these records.

Rain #4 2003, Lithography, 2 pieces of waxed Kozo hand stitched to BFK, 18.5x18.5

These records were then used to formally arrange the large installation called Rain. I spent about 1 year figuring out the proper arrangement of this work. It is quite large; one side is 12.5 ft and the other about 8 wide. Each little square is composed of 2 sheets of waxed rice paper and one heavier sheet of rag paper that I printed the rain marks on. After going through the assembly line type work of printing my records on hundreds of different sheets of paper, using countless colors, etc, and dipping them into a large vat of wax, I selected pieces that worked well together as individual formally interesting compositions in the 6in square format. These were then hand stitched together and a strip of Velcro was adhered to the back.

The "closet formalist" in myself always comes out around this time in my working process. The large installation evolved over numerous painful months of trial and error. I lined my studio walls with strips of Velcro and began moving the pieces around, searching for the correct composition. Repositioning the lines of Velcro, extending then. I ended up using the corner.
I wanted a solid formal arrangement that both portrayed the poetic idea of fragility and delicacy as well as a beautiful engulfing atmosphere that one could become lost in.

The work is designed to give the viewer 2 different experiences. The overpowering feeling of being emerged in the storm of rain and the individual more quiet experience of flipping through individual groupings.
Scrap Book 2004-07, mixed printmedia

BS: Marilee, how does current world events influence your work? In other words, how does contemporary life impact your creative practice?

MS: I am very interested in contemporary art and feel that it is a very exciting time for artists.
My most recent works deal with sexual abuse. Like artists such as Tracey Emin, I am working with the very personal, showing this vulnerable side of myself, giving others permission to do the same thing.

I feel that art has tremendous potential for change. Visual outlets impact the human mind on a primal level. Words tend to be more surface. We have learned far to well to sensor our language and block out things that can be addressed visually much quicker and with greater impact.

BS: Marilee, tell us more about the philosophy behind your art. What motivates you to create?

MS: I must create. It is not really a choice; it is more of a compulsion.

BS: Why did you choose to work in the medium(s) that you use?

MS: I love experimenting with different materials. I tend to always include some type of printmaking due to its repetitive nature and the delayed gratification involved.
I’ve worked with menstrual fluid. Ran tampons through my etching press. I chose these materials for conceptual reasons. This is used in the sexual abuse works. My interest here deals with sexuality and femininity. It is a way of addressing a personal shame that is the result of my childhood sexual molestation.
Red Rover, Red Rover 2004, menstrual fluid monotypes, silkscreen

BS: what is your studio like? Can you go into detail about your studio routine? Do you work in silence-- listen to music.

MS: My studio is messy. I have a lot of different projects occurring at one time. My routine is all about ritual. I go in and begin somewhere, on something and I wait and see where it takes me. I tend to cycle through different things. I can’t work on one thing at a time, attention deficient disorder. After working for a while I sit and look at the progress and wait for my mind and intuition to give me answers about the next move. I usually listen to music and sing really horribly.

BS: Marilee, what are you working on at this time?

MS: I’m working on a series of etchings and a mixed media installation piece.

BS: Do you have an upcoming exhibit? Where can our readers view your work?

MS: My work is currently part of a fundraising effort for autism. The fundraiser will go through the first week on December. People can go to the website and donate $5 for a ballot to vote on a particular artist, such as myself ☺. All proceeds go to support research in autism. I’m in a 4-person show, Women’s Concerns At Lock Haven University, Lock Haven PA that opens in January. My work can also be viewed at

BS: The internet is changing how we discover and view art. In your opinion, how have sites like empowered artists?

MS: Defiantly!
Lacy Circle 2007, inkjet print, 10x8

BS: Finally, what are your goals as an artist? What do you hope to accomplish with your work?

MS: I hope it continues to evolve and inspire others in a compelling way. I hope to empower women whom have suffered from abusive situations. I hope to draw attention to issues of abuse within families. I have high goals, I know.

You can learn more about Marilee Salvator by visiting her website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--

Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


ainesse said...

I have very much enjoyed reading through this interview between Brian and Marilee. I think it was only last week that I saw Marilee's artwork on myartspace dot com, while I was uploading some work to my portfolio on there.

As a fellow printmaker I was delighted to find a peer who was making installations and using printmaking processes and also dealing with some 'issues' as well.
Dealing with these kinds of very human themes I found to be courageous. I have made installations myself that are concerned with child abuse although as with Marilee's, one only perhaps realizes this on approaching and really engaging with the installation.
Some of her pieces are very thought provoking and beautiful. Thank you for your insightful questions and for enabling an artist who's profession is to create and communicate.

Aine Scannell

paul said...

As an oil painter, painting on canvas, i find your work to be very different from traditional views of "art"
If you do not mind me asking what are your views of traditionally based art forms such as oil painting on canvas, it in itself has been around very long, not as long as painting on rocks, such as caveman did, but oil painting is more popular and traditional based media, what are your views?

Anonymous said...

dear marilee , I like your works very interesting, and exiting your search and compositional cromatica.I happy to meet you, a hug, narcissus