I began collaborating
as the prime focus of my work in 1987 when I met Chen Ke Liang, at his
retrospective showing, the first year I lived in Shanghai. We became
friends and began to work eventually on a painting collaboration, Inner
Satellites that combined both Eastern and Western techniques.
The collaboration was a success on a number of levels and sponsored
by the Chinese Cultural Bureau and the Shanghai American Consulate,
beginning to tour China in 1989 and America in 1991. The Chinese press
called it an "art marriage" and creatively it was that close. After
the 1991 tour we separated as art collaborators but have in the ensuing
years remained close family friends on opposite sides of the Pacific.
was a challenging high and I began to teach a small group of interested
people the techniques we had learned working together. As everyone brings
something different to the art of collaborating, the main people I have
worked with each added their own fingerprint to the aesthetic cultural
mix. Ring of Fire which began in 1992
and continues to the present is a collaboration which touches on the
scholar-artist tradition. My collaborator, Julia Strauss, holds a doctorate
in Chinese Studies and teaches at the University of London in England.
In the Summer
of 1997 I began with Mitra Ghaffari, an international artist and teacher,
two collaborations with a Central Asian theme. The first one was called
Ballad of Horses, painted in the Fall.
Tower of Babel was painted in early Spring/98 following a
Winter trip we took together to China. Mitra brought to the collaboration
an architectural perspective and Persian script laden with the art of
gestural storytelling. Recently Ms. Ghaffari has blossomed out into
a new collaboration with calligraphic and martial arts master Jiang
Jin, who teaches calligraphy at the prestigious National Academy of
Fine Art, Hangzhou, China. They recently completed a series of calligraphic
works called Motion that is in keeping with the lineage and growth
of our works together. In the summer of 1999 Mitra and I completed our
third collaboration, Light Fusion, this
time on canvas.
These five collaborations
have a borderless, global message that brings together people of different
cultural values. They offer a new depth of hybrid understanding which
is unique to the processes of working closely together to create art.
1999 Elsa Marley.
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