This month Arts Alive! spotlights sculptor Marita Torbick, artist in residence at Maple Homestead Farm's Tisané Art Residency program. Here is Marita's story, in her own words:
Strangely, the inspiration for my work began on a mountaintop at 10,000 feet. Peering into glacial crevasse I heard water flowing beneath the ice. I traversed the ice sheet and stopped to listen at every crevasse…flowing water. I returned from that hiking trip thinking about our melting glaciers and wondering what is being done about climate change. My curiosity led me to investigate the science and note the lack of action in the press and political stage. I became intrigued with industrial sustainability and how consumer purchasing impacts global warming. More questions emerged. What are the effects of shipping products around the world? How does waste figure into these calculations? What is being done in industry to arrest carbon emissions?
Worldwide, industry contributes 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Initially, I chose to make sculptures representing the most dangerous material that are so familiar to us: paper, plastic, concrete, steel and aluminum. The forms are suggestive of pillars or columns as the material most responsible for contributing to climate change. I hope that my work causes viewers to question how consumerism is impacting our air, destroying habitats and creating mountains of waste worldwide. I strive to make my sculptures from salvaged materials in commitment to not create demand for more new material.
As a child, art was my favorite activity. When it was time for college, I went to art school but didn’t have the drive or self-confidence to be a studio artist. I continued to paint and draw from time to time. After a long and successful career in counseling, I found myself at one point constantly thinking about creating sculpture and knew that passion that I had wished for all my life had arrived. Every indicator in my life pointed to return to school to complete my art education and in May 2017, I completed a Masters Degree in Sculpture at the University of Massachusetts.
In addition to my sculpture practice, I enjoy drawing clouds and the landscape. It is my beloved expression of nature. Where as sculpture can be challenging, ornery, exacting, drawing is sweet pleasure.
I am currently preparing for sculpture exhibition on sustainability. Conceptually, I am concerned with how textile microfibers from our clothing and are shed in our laundry rinse water. Down stream microfibers are choking phytoplankton, the microscopic marine animals that are the foundation of the marine food chain. Other work will focus on the use and misuses of wood for shipping pallets as an instrumental part of the system that delivers all those consumer products. It is my dream to add to the conversation on our cultural obsession with acquiring material objects. I believe that in times of transition artists are able to provide new perspectives, disrupt habitual thinking and spur much needed conversation and action.
I am presently the Resident Artist at the newly formed Tisané Art Residency on a farm in hills of Marlborough. The opportunity to live in the natural beauty of the Monadnock Region is dream come true: a bike rider, hiker and artist dream come true. I feel quite fortunate to be in the political environment of Keene with their progressive commitment to sustainability and be in an area so engaged with the arts. I hope to connect with artists to share ideas and possibly collaborate in creating work related to environmental justice, recycling or material salvage.