Beth Markel

Human flaws, beautifully acknowledged

Posted on January 24, 2014 by Beth Markel

I saw Eric Fischl’s work the very first time I was in New York City.  It was years and years ago, but I was immediately drawn to what I believed was interesting, evocative, and thought-provoking work which actually acknowledged the seedier aspects of suburban life.  When you have a girlfriend’s mother commit suicide, and you’re both only 12, reality isn’t just what to wear to school today.  I lived in a nuclear family that was sane.  There was never drama, hysteria, drunkenness, abuse, or other darker issues, which many families face.  Growing up, my life was idyllic.  Everyone, however, was not as blessed as I was.

In Eric Fischl’s work, I saw human flaws, beautifully.  So many of the kids I grew up with were forced to present to the world a false front, their “public face” as opposed to what was going on in their homes.  Put on your Sunday best when you go out and about.  Fischl’s work acknowledged this dichotomy, and I was moved by it.  His bio includes this:

“Fischl’s suburban upbringing provided him with a backdrop of alcoholism and a country club culture obsessed with image over content. His early work thus became focused on the rift between what was experienced and what could not be said.”

I like exploring the dichotomy of emotions, events, places, and people.  One of my busiest piece to date, Escúchame: The Communication Paradox, is based on this principle.  The more and more we have ability to communicate, the fewer actual human connections we make.

It causes me to ponder:

Does my work say what I intend or hope it says?

Rather than be discouraged by faults, disappointments, pain or disaster, do artists use that to fuel their work?

Does powerful work come from both pain and elation?

How do I translate cultural issues and concerns to fabric?

Is my work thought-provoking?

Is yours?




Some of the words I’ve herded this week:

Design                       smooth                      quality                       contentment

Thoughtful               quiet                          listen                          serendipity

Scandal                     storm                         heart                          truth

Kindness                   taste                           blubbering               cancer

Powerless                 unafraid                    broken                      peaceful

Serene                       extreme                    open                          permeates




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