The initial series Into the Ashes is a compilation of drawn images that are based upon the controlled burning of farm buildings during the various stages of fire and its manifestations. More recently the series has included fire events and debris from locations other than rural farmsteads. As a retired member of the Wayne Volunteer Fire Department, I have had many opportunities to observe the characteristics of fire from a very close vantage point.
During several training sessions, I photographed the initial torching, the total engulfment, the building collapse, and the smoldering of timber and charred cinders. My intent was to observe the transformation of solid matter into ash. The ephemeral elements of flame, water, steam and smoke provided the foundation of my study.
As witness to this dramatic interlude with nature I was challenged to translate such illusive imagery into highly complex textural components. Through close observation using the photograph, I faithfully interpreted the parts of these elements so as to freeze frame the fleeting, amorphous qualities of the event. In so doing, I became aware of fire’s architecture, which is the inherent order of form amidst chaos.
Charcoal seemed to be the most direct and logical medium from which to make these initial drawings, without the embellishment of color. The use of charred wood in my hand recalled the emotional and sensuous aspects of sight, smell and temperature. Memories of the hissing and crackling of wood, the roar of flame, and the scent of smoke all evoked the unrelenting power of nature.
As a symbolic expression of heat, I have incorporated warm sanguine and sepia chalks with the charcoal. The layering of color attempts to add further spatial dimension to the interior of the fire which in turn distinguishes it from the adjacent surroundings.
Artist Bio / CV
J. Marlene Mueller
814 Douglas, Wayne, NE 68787, 402-375-4293
Art & Design Department, Wayne State College, Wayne, NE 68787, -402-375-7513
MFA, MA, Miami University, Oxford, OH
BA, Limestone College, Gaffney, SC
Professor of Art, Wayne State College
Drawing Fire, solo, Elder Gallery, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE, 2013
6th Annual Juried Exhibition, 2nd place/cash award, Norfolk Arts Center, NE, 2013
The Values of Drawing, invitational, Sioux City Art Center, IA, 2012 into 2013
Drawings, Marlene Mueller, solo, Nordstrand Visual Arts Gallery, Wayne State College, 2012
Drawing Fire: Then and Now, solo, Marxhausen Gallery of Art, Concordia University, NE, 2012
In the Eye of the Beholder, selections from permanent collection, Sioux City Art Center, IA, 2011
Drawings, Norfolk Arts Center, solo, Norfolk, NE, 2011
Drawings, Kimmel-Harding-Nelson Center for the Arts, solo, Nebraska City, 2010
Paintings, Walker Art Gallery, solo, University of Nebraska-Kearney, 2010
(re)search, group, Jackson Artworks, Omaha, NE, 2009
That’ll Leave a Mark, two-person show, Tugboat Gallery, Lincoln, NE, 2009
10th Annual Art Auction Preview Exhibition, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE 2008
Nebraska Now: Marlene Mueller, Drawings, solo, Museum of Nebraska Art, 2008
Spirit: A Celebration of the Arts in Nebraska, Museum of Nebraska Art, 2008
Drawing: Selected Works by Norman Geske, invitational, Modern Arts Midwest, Lincoln, NE, 2008
Illustration, Drawing/Space, Form and Expression (4th edition), Enstice and Peters, 2011
Visiting Artist, Department of Art & Art History,University of Nebraska-Kearney, October 2010
Omaha World-Herald, “Group Show Focuses on Photography, Painting”, May 21, 2009
Nebraska Firefighter, “Marlene Mueller: Firefighter and Art Professor”, October, 2008
Friday Live at the Mill, NE Public Radio interview, MONA artist series, Nebraska Now: Marlene Mueller Drawings, 2008