The following is an excerpt from and article by Pam Schipper on Marian Osher‘s current show of eco-spiritual paintings and prints at Unitarian Universalist Church (details below). The full article, including Marian’s deeply personal experience with flying on 9/11 and the story of how she came to be an artist, can be found in the current issues of Montgomery Life magazine, available in area newsstands now.
Osher learns something new through each body of work she creates, and she strives to pass this on to the viewer. When her son became a coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign, a nonprofit working to protect the free roaming buffalo in Yellowstone National Park, Osher merged her spiritual path with an environmental one. “I would go out there and volunteer. I volunteered 11 times, and I would go on all the patrols,” she says. “Then I did other activism. I lobbied with congress, too.” The 2008 “Dream Quest” show at New York City’s Ceres Gallery suspended dream catchers with moving icons over wall hangings of painted buffalo, a craft Osher learned while volunteering at Yellowstone. Images have been reproduced in the Buffalo Field Campaign calendar and other fundraising materials, including note cards, with all proceeds going toward helping the buffalo.
Her environmental shows, including the 2007 “Earth Matters” at the Washington Printmakers Gallery, explored issues ranging from the plight of the Yellowstone buffalo to logging, the effects of global warming, light pollution and the distress of numerous species, including harp seals, polar bears, penguins, walruses, sea turtles, frogs, toads and dolphins. “When I have my environmental shows, I have literature for people to pick up to take something with them if they want to become more active or learn more,” Osher says. “So there are so many ways that artists can raise awareness, and then there’s giving talks about your work and discussing the issues.”
Her 2009 show “eyetinerary” at the Washington Printmakers Gallery was “about being present in the moment, and that was inspired by a sketchbook—a series of sketchbooks. It’s really looking and seeing what’s right there in familiar pathways and appreciating it,” Osher explains. “So if one person’s awareness or thinking can be inspired by that, then as far as I’m concerned my work has succeeded whether I sell or not. And that means I’ve been able to give that gift away, and I can feel good about my use of my art.”
“You see, if it’s about ego, then it’s about how much you sell or what award you get. You’re always judging yourself, and I don’t want to be there,” she continues. “That’s one of the letting go things that happened in the spiritual journey, and it
makes my art a lot more fun for me, less pressured.” She pauses and smiles. “It doesn’t mean that I do any less work.”
“Art Matters” is on display Jan. 9 through Feb. 6, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 100 Welsh Park Dr., Rockville. Among the 60 pieces are new multimedia works inspired by the seashore. An artist’s reception and talk will be held Jan. 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday. For more information, call 301-762-7666.