“I want to communicate those images and feelings that the natural world awakens in us.”
- Giorgio Morandi
We are nature, at least this is what I believe. Living in the age of the Anthropocene has humanity confronting environmental degradation. Climate anxiety is a term that now describes the overwhelming and alarming environmental situation and why wouldn’t humanity feel threatened, our very existence is in question. Ironically, nature is also scientifically proven to relieve anxiety and this connection is observed by spending a beautiful day in the park or walking through the woods.
My work explores the strained connection between humanity and loss of nature. Gardening and cultivating spaces like parks and managed woodlands offer refuge to find oneself in nature and the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves. I began farming flowers sustainably as part of my artistic practice, to immerse myself in the seasons and address a responsibility to repair the earth through this work. My paintings of flowers, weeds, and plants composed as entangled masses are an attempt to memorialize nature. I paint layers of foliage in and out of focus, creating forms that become a camouflaged surface of textures and brushstrokes. I am mourning the loss and separation from nature by recreating moments I experienced with the natural environment, through memories or drawings or photographs.
Having grown up on a farm and as a gardener/farmer, I am no stranger to the outdoors. Even this exposure sometimes feels like it is not enough to remember what gifts the fresh air and clean soil are and the bounty a garden provides. What started as landscape painting has turned into close up studies to provide an immersive experience and to depict environments that embody the unseen mysteries of the natural world. I do not claim there is anything mystical about natural disasters, or nostalgic about the destruction of farms, but the accumulation has created unpredictable outcomes. My paintings are interpreted as beautiful and this beauty is only to soothe the pain while the glowing light within the paintings reveal a sign of hope.
Marisa Keris is a painter based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Marisa graduated with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007 where she studied painting and attended the European Honors Program in Rome, Italy. Returning abroad in 2016, she spent one year at Temple University Rome and completed her MFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA in 2018.
She is a 2017 recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant. Her work has been exhibited in Alabama, California, Louisiana, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Italy and France.