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Marilyn Mcallister Sehlmeier

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Marilyn Mcallister Sehlmeier

(Kanab, Utah, 1933 - 2013, Kanab, Utah)

My approach to art and my personal methods, techniques, and attitude toward art have been shaped by many different circumstances. I was a child of the depression with all of the typical deprivations. I was born in 1933, and lived for a number of years on an old dry farm with no running water, no electricity, and very few of the amenities. My art sometimes reflects a state of mind reminiscent of these years. Professionally, I have been influenced by many fine artist/teachers who did their best to pass on to their students their own philosophies and approaches to the making of art. While obtaining my first degree in Art Education from the University of Utah in 1956, I was influenced greatly by the following artists: In landscape painting on location—LeConte Stewart. In drawing from the live model—George Dibble. In composition of the picture plane, values, tones, etc.—Doug Snow. In basic sculpture—Avard Fairbanks. After teaching art for a short time, I was a missionary in New Zealand for two years where I became intrigued by the decorative textures used in the wood carvings by the ancient Maori people. These flowing designs and carvings later became a factor in some of my artistic output. For more than 30 succeeding years, I lived outside the state of Utah in Arizona and in California where I taught art and ceramics and spent a lot of time raising a family. During this time away from Utah, I also spent a large amount of time designing stage scenery and working with costuming for stage productions. When I returned to Utah I began the pursuit of an advanced degree in ceramic sculpture at the Brigham Young University. There I was privileged to have direction from Von Allen in the ceramics department and Neil Hadlock in the sculpture department. I tried to assimilate their differing philosophies and in the end formulate my own approach to art. Many other fine teachers on the BYU faculty expounded the maxim that real art contains, among other things, truth and beauty. My aim is to determine what that really means. What is truth? What is beauty? I received my MFA from the Brigham Young University in 1995. Recently, I have been on a “side trip” from ceramic sculpture, using a digital art form in my search for truth and beauty. I make narrative collages in what I call tradigital mixed media on canvas. I call it “tradigital” because I use a combination of traditional media such as oil paint, acrylics, pencil, pen, photography, etc. And digital printing. These collages seek to tell the truth, and consequently, they sometimes have disturbing content. I endeavor at he same time to let these collages speck with a certain type of beauty. My art is at times a therapeutic outlet for my own life. At other times, my sole purpose is to tell whimsical or fanciful stories and fables incorporating my love of decorative design and textures. Narrative Collages—not just pretty pictures Marilyn Sehlmeier—Artist Statement I enjoy a good story, but I think in pictures. Indeed, I find it difficult to articulate and explain anything without a pencil in my hand to diagram and illustrate what I “really” mean. My memories and thoughts are recorded in images—miniature snap and vignettes of life. So, much like the painters of the Northern Renaissance, I tell my pictorial narratives with symbolism, analogy, and iconography to convey deeper visual meaning. I work instinctively by what I fell at the moment. If an image does not seem correct, I agonize and manipulate until suddenly, I know what I have is “right.” For years I relished working in the ceramic arts and producing three-dimensional clay objects. My work in Digital imagery was an impulsive side track. Now, after a steep learning curve, it is currently my main pathway. I do not rule out the possibility of creating additional ceramic art, but I am deriving immense joy and pleasure from my current work. I combine and mix traditional fine art media such as photography, drawing, and painting in the computer for a distinctive result. It is flexible and immediate, giving effects not possible with regular painting or drawing. After printing the collages digitally on canvas, I sometimes add traditional media. I do not view the computer as a vehicle for making multiple prints. My collages are exclusive, “one of a kind” depictions on canvas, painstakingly preserved with layers of special UV varnish. I use a gallery-wrap style to stretch the canvas so that the edges of the collage can extend the image or add text. When viewing my collages, I hope instead of being satisfied with a cursory first impression, the viewer will study them intently to discern the underlying levels of meaning and content. Like peeling layers from an onion, if the viewer reaches inside strata, the emotions and expressions are stronger and more potent.

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