When observing Manuella Muerner Marioni’s body of work, it is obvious that the unfaltering energy and momentum found in the variations of light in her mirror sculptures mimic her equally zealous personality. The vibrancy and movement of her pieces are not constricted by opaque materials or static surfaces, but take part in a constant dialogue with their environment. What is most memorable about her dynamic objects are the variations of crystals that cover them, allowing the light to catalyze a conversation with the room and it’s spectators—thus these conversations become a part of the work’s experience and memory.
In this particular light, Marioni’s figures recall the Nksi power figure tradition. The Nksi, a native of the Congo and central African region, is a sculptural object that endures a physical transformation every time it is used by a nganga or spiritual expert. While the materials found in Marioni’s objects differ considerably, the parallels between her practice and that of the nganga cannot be ignored. Both pieces refer to nature in an effort to confront tensions and unleash a sense of renewal. Marioni invites the spectator to confront the contradictions that are evident in her work. She claims, “art is clearly the creation of contradictions which must be compensated for; art is a blend of contradiction and order.” The multitude of mediums used in her creative milieu attest to the confrontational nature found in her pieces. Marioni uses sculpture, painting, and photography to interpret her own artistic philosophies.
During a recent conversation with Manuella Muerner Marioni, I had the opportunity to learn more about her artistic process and life.
Jill Smith: Tell us a little bit about how you began making art.
Manuella Muerner Marioni: When I was child I always wanted to be an artist, especially when I saw the carbon pencil drawings of my father. The drawings were already yellowed and were on the top floor of our house lying around. This was my sweet secret, and when I went to school, I was always the best in drawing lessons. As a child, I had already won many drawing competitions. I love creativity and art more than anything! Without art, I would turn gray and miserably sick.
JS: Your work engages many mediums and genres of art at once, how do you begin your creative process?
MMM: My creative process starts in my head and never stops! Every day I walk with my dog Joya for 2-3 hours in nature. My main theme is the infinite variations of the light of colors. So, in nature, I am inspired every day anew. My fascination has always been the play of light in crystals, in water, and especially the diffraction of sunlight through a prism. After that, I make my sketches. My main work is the mirror sculptures. Why? The surroundings and environment of my beholders should become a part of my artwork. The only way to represent this is in three-dimensional sculptures, covered with mirror fragments. As the mirror fragments reflect the environment on my sculptures, I began to paint color reflections. When I photograph my mirror sculptures – which is pretty difficult – I see the different color light reflections.
That’s the reason I am painting with pearl acrylic colors. The acrylic paintings, photographs and digital art (which is completed with a graphic program that redesigns pictures of my mirror sculptures) originally come from my sculptures in relation to the theme of light and reflections.
JS: What drives you to make your way to the art studio everyday?
MMM: If I don’t have time to work in my studio because I have to finish something urgently, I’ll get moody and uncomfortable. For me, it’s like being in paradise, if I can work in my studio in peace without disturbance. I live in a different world then – in my fantasy world! And I have a lot of ideas and fantasies. My teachers at school always told me that I have too much imagination. Today I say, “without imagination you are lost in this world!”
JS: If you had the opportunity to be included in a two person museum show, who would be your ideal artist to show alongside?
MMM: Soon I will launch a major project with John Stutz, a great artist who works with various materials (mainly with plastic materials). We want to create a great work of art together, similar to the Noah’s Ark in Israel by Niki de Saint Phalle in collaboration with star architect Mario Botta. So my ideal partner is John Stutz.
JS: Tell us about any exciting upcoming shows or projects you are looking forward to.
MMM: I am most looking forward to the project with John Stutz and my solo Exhibition at Artifact in New York City May 2015!