Rollin Marquette: Natural Beauty

Rollin Marquette has a long-time relationship with Franconia Sculpture Park.  In fact, in 1996, Marquette made his move to Minnesota from the east coast because of Franconia.  John Hock (Franconia co-founder and Artistic Director/CEO) and Marquette met each other at Socrates Sculpture Park in the early 90s.  In the first years of the park, Hock asked Marquette to come out to Minnesota and help manage the newly-founded park for a few months.  Eighteen years later, Marquette has made an impressive career as a Minnesota-based artist.

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Marquette’s sculpture Subtract installed at Franconia Sculpture Park in 2007.

 His monumental, highly-precise sculptural installations have earned him major awards: Jerome Fellowship, McKnight Fellowship, Bush Artist Fellowship, and most recently and Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  If you’ve ever experienced his work in person, you understand the intense attention to detail and sheer ambition of Marquette’s work.

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An installation image of Marquette’s work at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’s MAEP Gallery.

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An installation image of Marquette’s work in the main gallery at Franklin Art Works.

 Until May 10, Marquette is showing new work at our NE Minneapolis gallery, Franconia in the City @ Casket.  The opening reception is Saturday, 4/19 from 6pm to 9pm and you can learn more about his ideas and process during an Artist Talk on Thursday, 5/8 from 7pm to 9pm.  With this exhibition, Natural Beauty, Marquette’s demonstration of material mastery and conceptual maturity is awe inspiring.  Presenting a decagonal steel chamber that almost completely occupies the gallery space, Marquette’s quiet monolith beckons us in to enter a space lined by a clear box engulfed in smoke.  When inside, we are simultaneously made safe yet also frustrated by this box-like skin that separates us from the frightening, lovely, sooty fumes.

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A sneak peak of the gallery during Marquette’s install of Natural Beauty earlier this week.

 Diane Mullin, Curator at the Weisman Art Museum has this to say about the artist and exhibition:

“Smoke can be threatening.  It can also be beautiful.  It is at once an agent of poison and suffocation and elegant evidence of lilting air currents.  Smoke has in our culture been a sign of danger and literary and artistic subject.  We watch it mesmerized.  We want to touch it knowing we can’t hold it.  Some take it into the lungs for pure sensuous enjoyment.”

“The work dwells on several of Marquette’s most passionately held concerns and interests: inherent contradictions in seemingly ordinary objects, the experience of the body in enclosed and often barely knowable spaces, and lurking danger in unexpected places and things.  Natural Beauty may be his most thorough investigation of these themes to date.  Like a live performance, the only way to be acquainted with the work is to experience it.  In this way, Marquette’s Natural Beauty may encapsulate and embody the most profound contradiction of all his work – it is both monumental, heavy-metal structure and extremely ephemeral experience much like a puff of smoke itself.”

As you’ve heard form Mullin, you have to experience Natural Beauty it to believe it and what you’ll experience could be Marquette’s best work yet.  So, don’t miss the exhibition!  More details here.

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 Rollin Marquette is a fiscal year 2013 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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