Photo: Christopher Jaques

By: Shelton Fitch Staff Writer

MC Art Exhibit Shares Dreams of Life, Love and Wonder

Photo: Christopher Jaques

The burst of bold colors, shapes, and long streaks of paint were the first things noticed upon entry into the King Street Art Gallery at the Montgomery College Takoma Park Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center. On September 29, artist Anne Marchand showcased her work in the illustrious gallery along with poetry readings written by one of her favorite poets, Rumi, which were read by artist and scholar Tom Block, and accompanied by music played by composer and musician Maurice Sedacca.

Marchand is an accomplished painter. Her art is showcased all around the country and has a unique sense of transcendent beauty which was clearly observed during the event.

The evening started off when Claudia Rousseau, a professor of Art History at Montgomery College, introduced Marchand’s collection of over 20 paintings titled “Of Shining Worlds.” Rousseau, a friend of Marchand, organized and curated the event. The group of students, interested spectators, professors and appreciators of art sat in front of the podium as Rousseau introduced Marchand and her work.

Anne Marchand — Photo: Christopher Jaques

Once Marchand got to the podium, she explained how she was “inspired by planets and stars,” and her “interest in mystical poetry and spirituality” fueled her when creating the showcased collection.

Images from outer space, ellipses, nebulas and the cosmos were one of the driving inspirations for Marchand. She also described how Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet who wrote, in Marchand’s opinion, “poems of love,” also served as a major inspiration.

Marchand said, “In spiritual tradition, self-knowledge is everything.” These quotes and poems written by Rumi, much like Marchand’s paintings, have room for individual interpretation. Selfknowledge or getting to know oneself is the key to spiritual tradition. One cannot understand their own spirituality without self-knowledge.

This theme of self and the spiritual complexity was a major theme during Marchand’s speech. When describing her art, Marchand said, “It’s pure abstraction.”

Marchand’s work can mean or represent whatever the viewer wants. “Abstraction is my inquiry into the nature of life,” is how Marchand described her view on how her art related to her own life and spirituality.

After Marchand finished with a brief introduction of herself and her collection, Tom Block, a fellow artist, scholar of medieval literature and friend of Marchand, read pieces of poems written by Rumi, which were accompanied by harmonious strokes of the oud, a six string Persian instrument, played by New York City-based musician and composer Maurice Sedacca. “Of the stars he made torches to illuminate the sky,” recited Block.

As Block read the poems, the ambience in the room quieted. The audience looked enchanted as the age old poetic words were uttered, and Sedacca played the oud with a subtle and powerful stroke in the background. Rousseau claimed the music to be “like a rose,” with its harmonious melodies and subtle splendor.

When asked why she chose to use music along with the poetic readings, Rousseau said, “I wanted to have these poems come alive with music.” And indeed they did. The music was like the finishing brush stroke on a painting; it enhanced the quality and gave it meaning.

As the evening progressed, the audience walked around the gallery, taking pictures, admiring the colors and having casual conversations with one another. “Art is not a matter of feeling, it’s also thinking,” Rousseau said, when asked how she placed the paintings alongside one another. Rousseau explained that one actually has to think about art, especially when attempting to create a theme and an attractive gallery. Some pieces may overshadow others, thus it is important to place each painting in an appropriate place.

On the gallery floor, conversation and art filled the air. One gentleman looking at Marchand’s painting titled “Unity” claimed it to be “abstraction that has depth.” An art student who was also gazing at a painting said, “I like the texture and the colors.” Clearly Marchand’s work has a great deal of aesthetic beauty, and room for personal interpretation.

Marchand also casually walked around the gallery floor answering questions and giving advice to students. “Experiment and Imagine” was her advice to up-and-coming young artists. Marchand has taken much time to find herself as an artist and as an individual. Though it may take time, she makes it clear that anyone can have dreams and make an effort to succeed.

The paintings displayed by Montgomery College until October 19 in the gallery may be purchased for your personal collection. They range from $300 for a 5” x 5”, to $12,500 for a 72” x 60”. The gallery is open to students and the public during school hours, no reservations are required.