Galaxies, Mysteries, Soul Mates: Sandstone Gallery at 30 (Excerpt)

Ryan Wirick, Laguna Beach Patch,  June 29, 2011

Marjorie Sanders’ latest work, on the other hand, takes the idea of Zen to a whole new level, for they have no reference point beyond the human imagination, no models or scenery, no camera or lens, not even ink or paint. Just the artist’s imagination and the tools made possible by modern computer software, a digitized stylus, and a graphics tablet. Sanders’ exhibition, Change of Venue, showcases her evolutionary step away from photography and into digital painting.

"I have always gravitated toward the intersection between art and technology,” says Sanders. “Going digital was the most significant catalyst in my evolution as an artist, because it facilitated a shift toward the abstract, opening the door to a vast new world of expressive capabilities."

Take Dharma, for instance, which appears as a gateway to infinity, or enlightenment, in the form of a silver, reflective orb with a black center. Or is it a long silver tube? Either way, there is a mesmerizing ripple effect between the black center and the outer membrane. After a while of staring at the ripples, the gateway-orb almost appears to take on a rhythmic pulsing of its own, a personality: a life.

Some of her pieces, like Arabesque, are so strikingly vivid they suggest the photorealism of her earlier work, although they are nothing, in essence or process, like each other. Instead of finding the right subject, angle, and light, Sanders now uses filters, fractals, distortions and gradients, “blending and manipulating elements in transparent layers until intriguing patterns emerge.” Instead of developing film, each of Sanders’ pieces are exposed by red, blue, and green lasers onto light-sensitive, metallic papers, then fused between a composite back and a highly refined, cast-acrylic face plate, making each piece of art truly one-of-a-kind.

In her experience, “the digital medium allows open-ended, spontaneous exploration and discovery, with often unexpected results. In that sense, you could say that the process inspires the outcome.”

For the last two years, Sanders has been heavily influenced by the translucent, reflective and sculptural properties of glass. Soul Mates depicts two matching vessels sitting next to each other, their reflections in the black void below. It is a perfect match, and you start to wonder whether the soul mates are the vessels themselves, or the possible couple enjoying whatever is in the vessels—if anything was ever there to begin with. Of course, you, the viewer, can put anything you imagine in the vessels.

"I think of my vessels as containers waiting to be filled. Emptiness, depicted by whiteness (light), implies a condition that will be filled with something in the future, a container suspended within a transitional state."

Sanders next plans to redefine what digital technology can do to create imagery of the pure imagination. She envisions expanding her art into the 3D arena, combining digital imagery with kiln-formed glass sculpture.

And the Sandstone evolution continues …