Marybeth Rothman

Marybeth Rothman

Introducing a new series of work by Marybeth Rothman: THE UNDERSTUDIES SERIES
THE UNDERSTUDIES are Photographic Combine, Archival Pigment Prints. These new works are a fusion of her vintage photography and ephemera that have been digitally altered and combined within hundreds of layers of “real” and digital drawings, paintings, and new photographs. They are face-mounted with non-glare P99 acrylic on Dibond. Each is limited to an edition of 6 plus 2 Artist Proofs and measure 40″ x 40″.

For many years after graduating form Rhode Island School of Design, I worked as an illustrator of figurative work for editorial and advertising in New York. I left Madison Avenue when I could no longer resist the pull to make art that was my own and not tethered to the vision of an art director. Over the years I continued to focus on the figure, and investigate it’s relationship to my message and materials. As time went on the figure was not enough. I found it necessary to add layers to my work and started cutting and a pasting my oil paintings. At this point where I began to use collage, introducing family photographs from the 1940’s into my work, I discovered encaustic*. I found I could compose many layers with encaustic, imbedding materials into my work, creating a visual depth that is unique to this medium. The convergence of these ideas, encaustic, collage and photography was the defining moment that started me on a wonderful journey.

Before long, I felt the need to find an alternative for my family photos and searched for photographs from the same era. As I began to collect vintage photographs, I was struck by the finality of their discard. When the last person that remembers these castaways is deceased; all memory of them is gone. This notion of the untended became an obsession for me and over the years I have amassed a rather large collection of unwanted, orphaned photographs. This examination is motivated by a wish to reclaim these lost and forgotten souls by re-imagining their biographies.

The works’ inventive formal issues aside, anyone who has glimpsed a stray photograph and wondered about the life it represents will respond to the tenderness and mystery of the personages in Rothman’s oeuvre.
– Joanne Mattera

The integration of encaustic, photography and collage in my work occurred simultaneously as a dialogue developed among these elements. The mixed media approach to my work is both additive and subtractive; employing many subtle layers to form an amalgam of biographical texture. The facial expression and posture of the figure in my photographs influences my palette, lines and marks that I use to create the narrative abstract drawings and paintings. As I continue to work, these disparate elements have begun to transcend the physical attributes of the materials and become one brush for me to paint portraits of strangers.

The images I choose for these photo collage, encaustic and mixed media portraits are selected individually and then again in response to each other. This curatorial process is somewhat circular as the photos are chosen, discarded and chosen again until an affinity develops among them. Over time, the juxtaposition of the photos on my worktable, a swatch of paint, or a sketch initiates a conversation among these elements. A series emerges. I work on three or four paintings simultaneously to insure a sense of visual and narrative continuity. My portraits are united in a series by an imagined geographic locations or cultural bonds, for example The Pilgrim Lake Library Committee, Francis County or The Hudson Dove Society.

I will continue to explore the portraits of the unknown and forgotten with abandoned photographs and broaden my investigation with contemporary strangers using my own photography. The basic human response to identify the other is endlessly intriguing to me.

Known for her photo collage, encaustic and mixed-media figurative paintings, Marybeth Rothman exhibits nationally and is in private and corporate collections throughout the U.S. and abroad. Rothman recently exhibited at:

  • Ripped: The Allure of Collage with Roy Lichtentstein, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, Miriam Schapiro and others, curated by Kenneth Wayne, at the Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY.
  • Swept Away: Translucence, Transparence and Transcendence in Contemporary Encaustic, curated by Michael Giaquinto at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA.
  • Lights, Camera…Click, Photography in Contemporary Art, curated by Susan Lanoue at Lanoue Fine Art, Boston, MA.
  • Faces and Figures, curated by Arielle Mark and Tria Gallery at Mark Gallery, Englewood, NJ.
  • C’est quoi la femme? curated by Paige Bart and Carol Suchman at Tria Gallery in New York, NY.
  • She is one of the featured artists in the books Encaustic Works 2012 by Joanne Mattera and Authentic Visual Voices by Catherine Nash.

Marybeth Rothman is represented exclusively by Frederick Holmes & Company in Seattle, Washington and select galleries in Boston, MA, New York, NY, and Englewood, NJ.

Rothman was born in Taunton, MA and graduated from Rhode Island School of Design. Her home and studio are in New Jersey.

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