By request. Rosemary Klein. Artist lecture.

Better Rosemary lecturing

Artist Rosemary Klein shown with her art titled “Travelers.”

Shadowbox Seascapes  by Rosemary Klein

The world refugee problem—emigrants, displaced persons, call them what you will –has been much on our minds, especially by the way of television and the internet.

As an artist, I don’t deliberately set out to create “political” art, and the casual viewer would probably not perceive my art as political. But an artist can’t avoid subconscious currents welling up. Often you do what you do, study it afterwards, and sometimes experience a moment of discovery: Oh that’s what his piece is about, underneath.

The small shadowbox seascapes, which I call “Travelers” and “Landfall” started out as watercolor warm-up exercises when I was last at the beach, painting. But, as simple seascapes, they felt too empty. Using found objects—pebbles, driftwood and a bit of netting, I turned them into collages. Then I added some acrylic marbling to suggest wave lines on the sand and in the shadows. I called the first, simpler painting “Travelers” and its partner “Landfall.”

Then came my “AHA!” moment. Looking at “Travelers” with its little row of ocean-tumbled pebbles, I recognized the anonymous refugees we’ve all seen on the beaches of southern Europe—individuals reduced to objects “en masse,” here singled out and, I feel, symbolically restored to dignity and beauty through an act of form. “Landfall” presents a different problem. There are barriers. The elements of time and suspense have entered the picture. What will happen next?

Time. The desperate plight of displaced persons is really mothering new. In working with my beach pebbles I remembered a poem which came out of the Holocaust of Work War Two, and the trauma of nations ground under the heel of History.

during Rosemary's lecture

I feel as though this poem, by Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, connects my modest shadowboxes with a larger stage. Herbert’s poem is titled “The Pebble.”


The pebble
is a perfect creature
equal to itself
mindful of its limits

filled exactly
with pebbly meaning

with a secret which does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything way does not arouse desire

its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity

I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand

and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth.

Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye.

About the artist:

Rosemary Klein works in the realm of visionary truths. As a former journalist and reference librarian, it’s sometimes hard for Klein to let go to the literal and venture into the more intuitive dimension of “what if?” Klein’s most recent art was presented at the Above and Beyond exhibition at Fairweather’s during the Seaside First Saturday Art Walk on March 5th, 2016. Art by Rosemary Klein will be on exhibit through the spring season.

Landfall by Rosemary Klein

“Landfall” by Rosemary Klein.

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