An Interview with Artist Micheline Klagsbrun


For her portion of a duo show with Thierry Guillemin, fellow Studio Gallery artist Micheline Klagsbrun draws on her exploration of a story by Ovid as well as the lotus flowers featured at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Keep reading for more insights into Micheline's lush show, Lotus/Lotis, May 26 - June 19, 2010 and be sure to drop by one of the receptions:

First Friday Reception June 4, 6-8 pm
Artist's Reception Saturday, June 5, 3-5 pm
Studio Gallery - 2108 R Street N.W. Washington, DC
Directions and Hours>>

Q: For this show, did you do anything differently... new techniques, subject matter, palette, etc.?

A: It's unusual for me to create an extended series of work, using a single theme and media: a continuous flow of work.

Q: Tell us more about your theme and inspiration.

A: The source: immersion in the extraordinary display of lotus at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, at the same time as I was working on Ovid's story of Dryope (from The Metamorphoses). Dryope, a lovely young mother, plucks a lotus, unaware that this blossom is a transformed nymph, Lotis. The flower starts to drip blood, and Dryope suffers the fate of being turned into a tree.

The lotus painted by Ovid is a plant of fantasy, open to botanical interpretation, though I see her clearly as the water-lotus (botanically of the Nymphaeaceae family). She is warmblooded still, almost unique among plants in her ability to maintain her body temperature, just as she used to do when she played with human beings.

Sacred to Hinduism and Buddhism, she rises pure and glowing from the muddy riverbed. As I draw her I feel myself drawn into this tradition of worship, but also into the tradition of centuries of classical artists painting the ideal woman, all translucent skin and soft curves...perfect petal, perfect complexion.

According to the Ancient Greeks, nymphs were also guardians of the sacred spring of water that symbolizes knowledge -- knowledge that was powerful and possibly dangerous. I learned this from Roberto Calasso, who states in Literature and the Gods: "To approach a Nymph is to be seized, possessed by something, to immerse oneself in an element at once soft and unstable, that may be thrilling or may equally well prove fatal."

Q: Do you paint intuitively, with a hardcore plan, or somewhere in between?

A: Although I will often plan my work, especially if it based on one of Ovid’s stories, in this case I just stepped aside and let the work emerge in a purely intuitive flow. Maybe Lotis allowed me access to the sacred spring!

Q: What challenges does the DC area present for local artists?

A: We face the same challenges as artists everywhere: how to survive in times of economic recession, how to build creative and nurturing community, how to get exposure for and critical feedback about our work. Last month we held an Open Forum at my studio in the 52O Street Building on just these topics, and after an hour and a half of fervent dialogue no one wanted to stop! The art world in DC is bubbling with ideas in these areas.

Thanks, Micheline, for sharing these insights into your new work and the DC art scene! Can't make her show? Visit her gorgeous online portfolio at the Studio Gallery website.

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