MUNTHE ART MONDAY: Marie J. Engelsvold
Please tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Marie J. Engelsvold. I work as a visual artist, live in Copenhagen, and have workshop at Filmstationen in Værløse. My education is as a Graphic Designer from
Denmark's Design School, where I graduated in Stop Motion Animation.
In addition, I have taken various courses at art schools.
Most techniques and approaches I have learned, I have consciously tried to unlearn.
It has always been very important for me to follow my own path, instead of leaning on already existing techniques and “rules”.
My focus in my artistic practice is different materials and the clashes between them. For me, it is the physical and sensual aspects of the materials that are exciting as I easily can express my consciousness through them. It is a meditative, playful and
experimental process where I let my intuition and energy control the process. I never have a fixed image of my work in my head before I get started, and I love to let myself be surprised and lead to new places in the work process.
Therefore, I also do not have a fixed way of working, I try to get away from the
automatic approach where you repeat the same procedure - that is why I constantly make sure that I introduce new materials and media into my practice.
As my works are created by the composition of many materials, they typically end up as
sculptures and more relief-like and collage-type works.
The materials include;
Wood, textiles, yarn, foam, fur, ceramics, plaster, pearls etc.
Media; Sculpture, collage, drawing, photography, and video.
Over the years, I have exhibited at many galleries and exhibition venues in Denmark and
abroad. Working with art projects in nature and public space and have just completed a decoration in a newly built children's institution. Beside that, I work on writing about the creative processes and teach visual arts to children and young people.
Do you pursue any specific themes in your art - if yes - could you explain which and why?
I do not have any specific themes, but I always work from inside and out, because it is the consciousness behind who does the work - and for me the feeling of life is the most important thing. It is also the way I know if my work is finished - I must be able to feel it with the whole body, and not just as a visual and mental satisfaction. When I am feeling good with myself and present in the process it is reflected in my work.
Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?
There are a lot of visual artists who inspires me, and most of them are women. Among other; Ellen Hyllemose, Rachel Hayes, Amy Brenes, Annette Messager, Eva Le Witt, Tatiana Berg and Arlene Shechet.
I think what we women have in common is the bodily and sensuous approach. I also see that in the visual artists that I am inspired by. They are playful and their choice of materials are typically not the traditional "fine and real" materials. Some of the women I am inspired by do sculptural works where they use textiles, yarn and other soft materials. I love how the soft materials can convey some other qualities than e.g., steel, bronze and stone as traditionally used by sculptors, and how the materials invite us into a more intimate, bodily, sensual, and vulnerable universe.
What is your position on feminism and the fight for women's rights and equality in the art world?
I see it as feminine and masculine energy, and I think the feminine energy is oppressed in our society, and thus also in the art world. Both men and women possess masculine and feminine energies, and as I see it, the feminine energy is suppressed in both sexes.
The feminine approach is not about shouting the loudest and being for or against. It has more to do with being touch with your body and emotions and doing what feels right: To be able to trust what you believe is best for you - to dare to play - and be living in the moment. Be sensual, enjoyable and nurture yourself and others. The energy is also more process oriented, rather than result orientated.
I do not view myself as a specific gender in relation to my art. For me, it must be looked at as an entity: to get so many aspects of myself, not to judge myself and most importantly to be allowed to
be wrong, vulnerable, ugly, and too much, and still be okay with it.
I want to be fully alive and not be placed in a box. When we act from the mental, we have many opinions and we separate ourselves from others, things can go right and wrong. When getting behind the mental we are all one - one consciousness.
We typically learn through upbringing and education - to be more externally controlled and adaptable to others, to proceed according to a logical manual. And thus, we become very adapted to what others think, but also very alienated from ourselves.
I think many, both men and women, long to be more free and able to express in harmony with body and emotions.
Here, many women have a slight advantage over men, as we have often been allowed to be more in our own emotions. We are more internally controlled. That is why it is so important that we women stand up and lead the way, show how great it feels to be free and be 1000 things at the same time, and to be able to contain all emotions and feel alive.
The role as victim does not cut it. We get up and do what we want and are passionate about it, without noticing any restrictions - and thus, there are no restrictions. You will find the courage inside yourself to act on your inner drive.
When working from that energy, it involuntarily spreads to others, without a word. It is actually so beautiful how we affect each other in silence. This relates both in the art world and in society in general.
As visual artists, we possess the ability to do something very special, and many female visual artists are very strong mouthpieces. We can speak through body and soul, through materials on a physical plan. We get around the mental, the theories and can talk directly to the consciousness of others.
We are on a very important mission.
What - in your opinion - makes a great artist?
It is a person who is not afraid to express themselves and can do this in a very unique and powerful way.
Could you explain more about your process and how you normally work?
I am very interested in the artistic process. For it is through the experiments and where you meet yourself. You need to lose the mental control and the routine awareness to get deeper down, and to experience the joy and freedom. Where everything is possible is when everything opens up. It is in the process that the adventure arises, the unpredictable and the mysterious.
It takes courage to work in a way where you do not know the outcome already, and it is at this stage where we are forced to face and work with fear, so we do not end up doing the same things all over again, and so we do not end up with limitation and boredom.
For example, at one point I got tired of making finished works, such as sculptures that were to stand with a finished and durable expression. Therefore, I took my sculpture parts out into the woods, where I tested different materials in new environments through e.g., photos and video movies. That way I could stay in the developing process with keep creating and recreating, and not just stop because I had to complete or fix the work. I found it more vivid that way. For me, it is about do experiments and get around all parts in the process and not only focus on one specific part of it.
What would you like people to notice in your work?
I want people to feel the energy in my works. I want them to sense that there is something more in my artwork than what you can see with your eye. At the same time, I hope and wish for people to get a surprising visual experience, so it creates a wonder of what it is. A reflection and a movement.
Each Monday MUNTHE brings you an interview with a new female artist. Follow MUNTHE ART MONDAY.