Briefly describe the work that you do.
My work has been shaped by my interest in human behavior particularly in “identity” and “collective memory.” Using found images, photography, paint, graphite and thread these works on paper are richly textured and layered much like our own personal histories.” Small in scale, these intimate pieces are meant to draw the viewer in to examine and reflect on his or her own life path or journey.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
As a child I had a fascination with drawing and collage and was encouraged to experiment with my materials. I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA where I developed an appreciation for art and art history. By the time I attended college, I pursued studio art an psychology. Upon graduation, I began exhibiting professionally in national, regional and local shows. However, it took the encouragement of a professor from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts for me to make a conscious decision to identify myself as “an artist” and that moment changed everything for me: it felt totally right.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in a suburb near Boston, MA that offered me a rich cultural life. The Museum of Fine Arts, the Peabody Museum and Symphony Hall were nearby and I have vivid recollections of visits to these venues. Inspired by music and art, I was encouraged to study both at a young age.
At the same time, I was fascinated by human behavior and wanted to learn and understand how people tick. I was curious about collective memory: that is how memories are shared or recollected by a group. As a person of Armenian descent, I heard stories about the Armenian Genocide of 1915 from my relatives. My grandmother often told me to never forget what happened to the Armenians and to keep that memory alive. Also, I was interested in autobiographical memory:
which are episodes recollected from an individual’s life. So upon entering college, I studied psychology and the visual arts. As my work in fine art evolved, my collective history led me to investigate questions of identity, memory and other psychological principles.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
In my current series, entitled Tattoo Trails, I examine the relationship between motivation, destiny and collective memories. I wonder what sustains us during the most challenging of times? By exploring this question, I seek to establish a dialogue with the viewer about our collective life experience and how we navigate our lives.
In creating Tattoo Trails, I was inspired by a photograph taken at a performance piece by David Hammons in 1983. I deconstructed the image and reconstructed my own narrative often using maps as a metaphor to represent a passage of time or sense of place. In several pieces, I have retraced parts of the map to indicate how we sometimes revisit our past to understand our present. Like tattoos, these recollections of time, place and experience remain permanently with us. They serve as a gentle reminder of our life’s journey.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
I like to work in series, investigating my ideas and then pausing to reflect on the body of work. Then, I continue to develop the images over time until their finished. Studio time alternates with periods of investigation and inspiration. Often I attend museum exhibitions, artist talks and gallery openings. Also, I have a community of artists to exchange ideas with. This has been an invaluable piece of my artist practice.
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
Marlene Dumas, Kiki Smith, Jenny Saville, Ann Hamilton, Alfred Jaar,Richard Lagasse, Robert Siegelman, Ilona Anderson and Barnet Rubenstein…to name a few.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
I enjoy listening to music, gardening and spending time with family and friends.
Adrienne Der Marderosian explores themes of memory, gender and identity in her work. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Tufts University in Medford, MA and has studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. Her work has been widely exhibited in both national and regional exhibitions in museum, gallery and university venues. Select exhibitions include Off The Wall, Danforth Art, Framingham, MA; Drawing Out Of Bounds, Wheaton College, Norton, MA; Fragile Navigation, Danforth Art, Framingham, MA and The 2nd Annual Art Competition, Hammond Museum, North Salem, New York. She is the recipient of numerous grants including a Massachusetts Cultural Council Professional Development Grant as well as multiple Local Cultural Council awards. The artist’s works can be found in both public and private collections.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.