By Yvonne Wright • The Current Contributing Writer
What makes artists differ from one another? What motivates a creative individual to break with life’s routine, and for the sake of doing something she loves, take a shot at inventiveness, fuelled by a passion for the surreal and spiritual?
Born in Bethlehem, PA, Marjorie (Marj) L. Reppert has always been a creatively individualistic person who has employed her fertile imagination in a variety of professional disciplines. She is a painter, mixed media artist and illustrator; a grades 9-12 teacher with a Master’s degree in Art Education from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Kutztown University. She also holds a Teacher Certification from Penn State and Bloomsburg Universities. Marj is a published writer with a particular passion for promoting art, and a traveler; she is also an herb lover from the family of herbalists whose tradition of going potions goes back six generations, all the way to the 1850s.
Throughout her life, Marjorie has always been both an avid collector of things vintage and a transcending traditional ideas artist whose fascination with unique objects has compelled her, over the years, to scout many thrift shops, outdoor markets, estate sales, and even the occasional souvenir store in pursuit of that perfect curio. Impressively methodical, Marj stores her extensive collection with an impeccable efficiency of neatly packed and labeled boxes organized by category, size and theme.
“Objects inspire me” says the artist, lovingly attached to old, often discarded things, pieces of collective heritage, and ordinary things; witnesses to the lives and rituals that once enriched peoples’ lives, but are often silently void of meanings today. They are all treasures to Marj, worth preserving for posterity by creatively appropriating them into artworks – and by doing so, the artist offers her collectables a ‘second life’, a new artistic identity, even immortality, as objets d’art.
The fascinating three-dimensional assemblages/collages contained within custom-made shadow-boxes have become Marjorie Reppert’s professional milieu and a meaningful form of her artistic expression. The process of building them has had an often “delightful element of surprise” the artist laughs, and has become a kind of self-discovery for her, through which she challenges herself at bringing unrelated pieces into a meaningful togetherness. She expertly juxtapositions shapes, colours and textures to narrate ‘stories’ – compositions often mystical and darkly surreal.
The artist works in a variety of innovative themes, from highly popular Halloween, charmingly Victorian Christmas, historic Mauch Chunk, to the out there Aliens, Macabre and soul searching Spiritual; not to forget the hugely popular Patriotic Heritage (USA) series – all of which are available in a variety of sizes and levels of detail – pulled together from re-purposed knick-knack items and vintage curios, novelty cards, toys, architectural elements and exotic souvenirs that are rarely otherwise seen together.
The Wizard’s Elixir is Marjorie’s most favourite mixed-media assemblage to date and resonates profoundly with her inner psyche, created specifically for the art exhibition themed “Scarecrow: Dark Fields and Folklore” at the Metropolis Gallery in Mechanicsburg, PA. Driven by the artist’s spiritual journey of self-discovery, the aesthetics of the piece references a fascinating collection of exotic souvenirs brought home over the years by her favourite aunt from extensive travels abroad.
“My creative ideas often come to me in a dream” explains the artist, “I feel things in my dreams, and then meditate upon these ideas to understand better how they are supposed to be put together as an assembly.” A unique piece of art can only be created through a dialogue with one’s subconsciousness – and once an artwork is displayed in Marj’s Rosemary Remembrances II gallery located in Jim Thorpe at 10 Hill Road, across from the Opera House, visitors are encouraged to negotiate their own understanding of it, and get inspired. Over the years, the unique provenance of Marjorie’s extensive collection has triggered her imagination in ways that can only be compared to a sacred awakening, the significance of which she tries to preserve in her works.
The Wizard’s Elixir is an especially visionary work for her, because it references spiritual wisdoms and beliefs from around the world, subtly decoded. The African doll in a beaded dress symbolizes Voodoo beliefs in spirits that inhabit all things, including animals and plants. Two Mexican sculls prominently displayed at the centre of the composition, both with an all-knowing eye (or the third eye), serve as a reminder that humanity’s thoughts and deeds are always observed by God (or, as in certain Hindu spiritual traditions, the third eye refers to the gate leading one into a realm of higher consciousness). Rosary prayer beads are most notable features of Roman Catholic religious practices and signify devotion; while the presence of eagle’s feathers recalls the Native American belief in the Great Spirit from whom all strength and power flows.
Weaving a dialogue of hope for all, with a deep sense of reflection on herself, Marjorie also included in the composition her mother’s vintage bottle of oil liniment referencing her family’s proud legacy as herbalists. There are also alligator feet, a Peruvian moon amulet, a toad skeleton, an Egyptian cat, and brass nails from Thailand, all linking supernaturally to the mysteries of the Sic transit gloria mundi (i.e., worldly glories are fleeting) idea. The ‘order’ has become undone and mystery creeps in, trapped in a box better left unopened…
Marjorie Reppert’s art seems capable of intuitively reshaping our emotional fragility brought upon by modernity. It restores in the viewer a sense of a more harmonious alignment between the romanticized past and our fragmented present. Its depth assures continuity…
The artist can be contacted at: Marj@RosemaryRemembrances.com
Yvonne Wright is the owner of STUDIO YNW at 100 West Broadway in Jim Thorpe. Interested in Artist Spotlight? Contact Yvonne at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview.