Mari Eckstein Gower ~ Washington

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Gower graduated from Scripps College (BA in art and humanities) and Claremont Graduate University (MA in painting / photography). Afterward, she studied printmaking for two years in Montreal before moving back to the US.
   
Picture Poem Books  
   
Vessel from the Place of Truth
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2015. Edition of 15.

Set of pamphlets and a book wrapped in cloth with tie closure. Inkjet printed on Superfine cover and Canson Mi-Teintes. Book: 10.75 x 4.6" closed, 12 pages; accordion fold; boards covered in gold leaf Lama-li papers; signed and numbered by the artist. "Vessel from the Place of Truth" pamphlet: 4.5 x 11", 10 pages; signed and numbered by the artist. Four pamphlets (one for each of the four sons of Horus): 4.5 x 11"; 4 pages. Pamphlets bound in brown paper wraps with image of each god on respective covers. Wrapped books laid in cloth covered clamshell box with scarab medallion on cover.

Mari Eckstein Gower: "I've been interested in Egyptian art since childhood. I remember seeing the magnificent golden image of King Tut and pouring through books to look at the photos of strange animal-headed gods, lavish gold jewelry, and (of course!) mummies. … I dearly wanted to grow up to be an archaeologist and uncover the secrets of the tombs.

"I never did become an archaeologist. But I still love pouring over books on the subject. I find one of the most interesting aspects is the ancient Egyptian burial beliefs and practices. In college I studied the Book of the Dead for one of my humanities projects. (I think some of the incantations read like poetry.) If possible, I try to attend any exhibit of Egyptian artifacts. A few years ago I attended an exhibition where rooms were set up like the interior of a tomb with a replica of the entire journey of the sun god through the Amduat (the Egyptian netherworld) painted on the walls.


"Vessel from the Place of Truth": "Across from the grand pyramids of the Valley of Kings, is an area called the 'Place of Truth'. This Is where tombs of the artisans, scribes and overseers responsible for constructing those pyramids lie buried. … I've drawn inspiration from the tombs of that region to create my own imaginings of an Egyptian scribe's work. In the 'mummy' book, I have my imaginary scribe conveying information from 'The Book of the Dead' and the 'Hymn to Osiris' to create a long narrative, intended to help the deceased with his/her journey beside the sun god through the trials of the Amduat.

"The four 'canopic jars' represent the containers for deceased's viscera, which would always accompany a mummy. Each of my 'jars' contains a page interpreting the organ's function, and a second page with my reimagining of a page of papyrus laid out with words and images from texts such as '
The Book of the Dead.'"
$800


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Soldier's Heart
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2014. Edition of 40.

6 x 7.25" closed, extends to 154"; 26 pages. Accordion structure. Inkjet printed on Arches cover paper from original paintings. Bound in patterned paper with metal heart adornment on front cover. Laid in cloth-covered French tray clamshell box with ribbon and metal closure. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Mari Eckstein Gower: "My father, like many who fought in World War II, suffered from nightmares triggered by his experiences. For his generation, this wasn’t something one spoke about, as if his responses were a weakness or shameful. I’m thankful that today the effects of trauma are being studied and treated, and that we’re beginning to understand that PTSD is not only a social issue but political as well. In my book, Soldier’s Heart, I explore the subject of PTSD, looking to historical portrayals of the effects of warfare and the ways PTSD has been described in the past. The book design is inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, which is packed with surprising descriptive details. I’ve also referenced Egyptian, Assyrian, Mayan, and Celtic artifacts."
$400

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An Alchemist's Lunch Box
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2013. Edition of 14.

Box containing three books (concertina fold, tulip fold, and pamphlet sewn), packet of seeds, and test tube. Pen and colored inks. Inkjet printed. Other materials: glass, ribbon, cork. Concertina: double sided, 4 x 4.5" closed; 16 pages and 14 pages; ribbon closure; signed and dated by the artist. Tulip fold: 3.5 x 3.5"; 6 folds on one side, 4 folds on opposite; ribbon closure. Pamphlet: 1.5 x 5.5"; 8 pages; slipped in waxpaper lunch bag. Wooden box: 8 x 8 x 2" closed; metal clasp closure; handle; metal ornaments at corners; paper title on lid; two compartments.

Mari Gower: "The food I put in my body is probably the most intimate ecological issue. I’ve come to understand that organic and natural ingredients are good and anything artificial is bad. With that in mind, the case against GMO [genetically modified organism] crops seems pretty straightforward. But then, I’m looking at this from the perspective of a citizen of a first world country. Like most ecological issues, the debate over GMOs is very complex. For the large percentage of the world’s population – for whom insufficient food is a daily reality – the promise of pest-resistant crops with higher nutritional yield sound more like a dream than a nightmare. I don’t pretend to have answers. To explore these issues, I created An Alchemist’s Lunchbox. I see the biologists working with plant DNA as akin to medieval alchemists, searching for ways to transform base materials. But is the end product true gold or some form of Frankenstein’s monster? I used medieval alchemical texts and botanic illustrations as my inspiration to present several different ways of looking at the outcome."

Mari Gower, blog: "I liked the idea of assembling a lunchbox – as if my imaginary alchemist is constructing a meal from his/her experiments. I've used the ancient alchemical device of the division of the four elements (fire, water, earth & air) as a theme throughout the components of the piece.

"The box contains: a test tube, an accordion fold book, a tulip fold book, a packet of seeds, and a pamphlet stitch book in a waxpaper lunch bag."


"Inside the lid is an expanded painting of the Four Elements diagram with another common alchemical image, the Ouroboros (the dragon biting its own tail; symbolizing a constant state of destruction & creation), in the center. In each corner is a quote from famous alchemists.

"The test tube contains dried flower petals, seeds, and the most famous quotes from The Emerald Tablet: 'That which is above corresponds to that which is below' and 'That which is below corresponds to that which is above.' The idea of balance was so important that many Medieval Alchemists posted copies of this text in their workshops as a reminder of the basic principles of their art. I think the concept is even more important today, as we learn more about the far reaching effects of our endeavors. I hope modern scientists consider the importance of balance and consequence in whatever experiment they begin.


"The Accordion fold book, 'An Alchemist's Lunchbox,' begins with a famous alchemical allegory: the green lion devouring the sun. Alchemists were fond of using such imagery to hide the formulas in their experiments. As an artist, I find these images far more poetic than: 'use a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acid to dissolve gold.'

"The book continues with a quote from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream, which, to my mind, seems to sum up the Alchemist's quest. The image is inspired by a decoration in an illuminated manuscript showing Janus, the two-faced god, blowing a glass beaker while a servant tends a pot over a fire.

"On the reverse side of the panels, I've collected quotes from current experts from both sides of the GMO debate.

"The remainder of the book shows symbolic representations of the alchemic process alternating with the most common GMO crops along with pests that often prey upon crops. The plants represented are cotton, corn, canola and papaya.

"Another component of the lunchbox is a tulip-fold book entitled, 'Side Dishes.' I was inspired by antique botanic illustrations. So in this piece I played with the idea of Frankensteinian fruits and vegetables. Once again I used the crops that are most common genetically modified at this time.

"In the waxpaper lunch bag is a pamphlet stitched booklet of 5 poems, which I have written to express some of my feelings about the issues I've explored in this piece."


A portion of the artist's proceeds will be donated to the PCC Farmland Trust, which helps preserve organic farmland.
$800

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
   
Elephants Dinosaurs & Dodos
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2013. Edition of 35.

15.5 x 5"; 18 leaves. Printed on an Epson WF-7520 using Arches Cover, Mexican Amate, Fabriano Ingress cover heavyweight, Lama Li paper, and translucent vellum papers. Bound in paper over boards. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Mari Gower: "Recently, I read a newspaper article about poachers invading a game preserve in Tanzania and slaughtering a herd of elephants. They took only the tusks, leaving the rest of the animals' carcasses to rot. And, the reason for this atrocity? The Asian illegal ivory market pays handsomely for the tusks to make chopsticks, key chains, and other brickabrack. Reading the story made me feel angry, sad, and sick to my stomach. Anger: because in my opinion, the world needs fewer key chains and more elephants. Sad: because these magnificent animals are dwindling at an alarming rate. And, sick to my stomach: because I feel helpless to stop this from happening.

"So I did what I often do when I feel such strong emotions: I channeled them into art. Before I even started working on the visuals, the words, 'do elephants dream of dinosaurs and dodos,' came to me, setting the stage for how I would approach the project. I wanted the book to have the sense things dwindling and being lost. I chose to work with translucent parchment paper overlays, to give the pages a feeling that portions of the images were being peeled away just as the elephants are being peeled away from the African landscape.

"I chose to start with images of mammoths from prehistoric cave paintings as a reminder: this has happened before. The rest of the poem and images seemed to flow naturally from that beginning.
I don't know how hopeful I am that we can save our animal treasures from extinction. But at the very, very least, I would like the world to understand the value of what is being lost."

$350

   
   
Memory
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2013. One-of-a-Kind.

A custom-made book-like structure (6 x 8.5") with tie closure opens to reveal a Moleskine Japanese Accordion Album (3.5 x 5.625", 32 pages) lying in a cavity. The accordion opens to a 10' (prefolded paper) on which Gower has created original images, using black and colored ink pens. Signed and dated by the artist.

Mari Eckstein Gower: "This book is dealing with memory... quite autobiographical. Since I try to keep the work on these projects free-flowing and stream of consciousness, I never know exactly where the 'story' will end up.

"I started with an idea for the beginning lines of a poem in mind, and I looked at old childhood photos of our first house in Southern California, near lemon and orange groves."

$3,000

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Picture Poems
Using a blank accordion book as her base Gower creates what she has named "picture poems." As she researches the words and images come together to form a new "picture poem".

   

Selene
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2013. One-of-a-Kind.

A custom-made book-like structure (6 x 8.5") with tie closure opens to reveal a Moleskine Japanese Accordion Album (3.5 x 5.625", 32 pages) lying in a cavity. The accordion opens to a 10' (prefolded paper) on which Gower has created original images, using black- and colored-ink pens.

Mari Eckstein Gower: "One of my first steps in choosing a topic is giving myself a color scheme challenge. This time I wanted to work on the colour palate of the night sky and also to experiment with metallic inks. The subject of the moon goddess was a natural choice since I love just about anything that has to do with the myths about the stars, planets, moon.

"I started out thinking about the scientific and folklore images of the moon differ from the Greek myth. Some people see a man in the moon, or a rabbit. But I can't help but think of the moon as a female – the Greek goddess Selene. In mythology, Selene is sister to Helios, the sun. He leads the way across the sky, but once the Goddess Nix raises her hand to bring on the night, and the evening star rises, the whole show belongs to the moon. I loved the image of all those gods and goddesses riding in a procession.

"The myths about Selene do not agree about what animal pulls her chariot. In some versions it is a team of oxen, while in others it is moon white horses. The museum in Athens has a beautiful dramatic statue of the head of one of Selene's horses. The image is so dynamic, I couldn't resist creating my own version.

"Selene has many children, including the fates and the seasons. The four seasons were a popular motif for Roman floor mosaics (which inspired my depiction here.) I saw a lovely example displayed in the museum in York, England, that dates back to the Roman occupation of that town.

"In the final panels of the book I portrayed night creatures associated with Selene, observations about the tides, and lastly bits of the Endymion [the most handsome mortal beloved by Selene]legend."
$3,000


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Bee Song
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2012. One-of-a-Kind.

A custom-made book-like structure (6 x 8.5") with tie closure opens to reveal a Moleskine® Japanese Accordion Album (3.5 x 5.625", 32 pages) lying in a cavity. The accordion opens to 10' (pre-folded paper) on which Gower has created original images, using black and colored ink pens.

Mari Eckstein Gower: "Bees love the lavender plants in my garden. And I enjoy watching them at work. For this I decided to give myself a two-fold challenge. First, I wanted an excuse to research different mythologies surrounding bees. And second, I wanted to break into a different color scheme. (I usually use yellows and golds as highlights. This time I wanted to have them to be the leading ladies.)

"There are many mythological and historical references in this piece. To list a few, I have incorporated imagery from: Egyptian tomb paintings, a pendant (circa 2000 BCE) from Minoan Crete (where priestesses dressed as bees and danced for the bee goddess), the Greek Thriai (a triad of honey priestesses), medieval manuscripts, and (of course) the Merovingian heraldic bees."

$3,000


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I Sail My Ship of Dreams
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2011. One-of-a-Kind.

A custom-made book-like structure (6 x 8.5") with tie closure opens to reveal a Moleskine® Japanese Accordion Album (3.5 x 5.625", 32 pages) lying in a cavity. The accordion opens to 10' (pre-folded paper) on which Gower has created original images, using black and colored ink pens.

Mari Eckstein Gower: "Unlike most of my book projects, this piece started with words. The phrase, 'I sail my ship of dreams,' embedded itself in my thoughts and refused to leave. Then came the image of a lady of the French court with an abundant powdered wig and sailing ship. Like many dream images, the combination of words and the French lady seemed a logical combination.

"At that time I'd chanced upon a vintage book about the history of theatre. The idea of dreams being a theatre - or theatre being a dream - made perfect sense to me. So I let the images unfold and, as with a dream, I trusted that the underlying logic would unfold."

$3,000

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Mari Eckstein Gower Out of Print Title:  
   
Circle or Zero
Origins

By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2014. Edition of 15.

4.75 x 12.25 x 1.25" closed, extends to 162"; 36 pages. Inkjet printing. Accordion structure. Foldouts from center of page forming a triptych. Papers: Superfine cover, Canson Mi-teintes, Strathmore drawing paper. Signed and numbered by the artist. Laid in cloth-covered clamshell box.

Mari Eckstein Gower: "Sacred or Profane? It depends on one’s point of view. In my book I compare scientific vs. the metaphysical viewpoints. To do this I’ve examined different ideas about creation: contrasting a panoramic timeline of the Big Bang/evolution (scientific view) with altarpiece inserts (metaphysical). For this I’ve used such sources as; the Bible, ancient Egyptian incantations, the Rig-Veda, Poetic Edda, Popol Vuh and the Hawaiian Kumulipo."

Mari Eckstein Gower, blog: "This was supposed to be a simple project; comparing the timeline of the Big Bang to creation stories from different cultures and religions. … I wanted everything to be based on the shape of a circle. (And no repeats! Each composition had to look at circles in different ways.)

"My germ of an idea was a meditation on the differences between circle and zero. They both started out as the same shape. But the one is tied to the rules of geometry while the other (when one really starts to look into the concept) skirts the edge of metaphysics and the meaning of infinity. I soon discovered that, to honestly portray the Big Bang portion of the book, I had to understand the underlying physics (at least on the most simplistic level) of the theory.

"The creation story part of the book presented another challenge. First, I had to decide which myths to include. I wanted to touch on as many cultures as possible , and include something from each continent.

"When I finished, the book stretched out to 13.5 feet long when completely unfolded. The time line starts with the Big Bang and concludes with Darwin's finches. As the book unfolds, each page turn opens onto an altarpiece which contains a representation of one of the creation stories

"Beneath these 'altarpieces' I've included a quote from the text that the story came from. Usually it was the first lines. I wanted to show how each story envisioned the inciting incident of creation. I looked at art from each culture, and used artifacts as reference for my images. For the Hindu story, I looked at Indian miniatures. For the Pelasgian story I looked at Greek black and red pottery."

(SOLD)


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Lost in the Book of Kells
By Mari Eckstein Gower
Redmond, Washington: Mari Eckstein Gower, 2012. One-of-a-Kind.

A custom-made book-like structure (6 x 8.5") with tie closure opens to reveal a Moleskine® Japanese Accordion Album (3.5 x 5.625", 32 pages) lying in a cavity. The accordion opens to 10' (pre-folded paper) on which Gower has created original images, using black and colored ink pens.

Mari Eckstein Gower: "I started with medieval illuminated manuscripts, thinking I would do homage to the scribes that worked in ancient scriptoriums. It seemed a fitting subject. The days were wet and grey and I felt quite monkish in my studio. My aim was to look at different forms of early books.

"But, keeping to my goal of allowing these projects to flow in a stream-of-consciousness direction, I never managed to move past the fascinating intricacy of the Book of Kells.

"What really caught my attention was the wonderful world existing in the margins of the text. I think those scribes showed sly senses of humor – slipping cats with mice, dragons and twisting figures into the decorations. To me, it shows that, although they dealt with sacred text, the monks still had an eye to the everyday workings of the human world

"And I was very grateful to learn that some of those amazing decorations in the margins were a trick to cover the scribe's mistakes. It makes my own imperfections seem a bit less onerous."

(SOLD)

 


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Page last update: 03.10.17

 

   
  
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