In more than 20 years as an installation artist, Margery Amdur has learned to live in that “fluid space between sculpture, painting, and printmaking,” combining aspects of all three mediums into her work.“I began my career as a painter and a printmaker and, in graduate school, migrated into creating room-size environments,” says Amdur, an associate professor of art at Rutgers University–Camden. The truth is that I have always understood myself to be a painter. However, I am not readily able to maintain marks and forms on a two-dimensional picture plane.”
Amdur’s latest mixed-media masterpiece, “My Nature,” is now on display for the reflection and enjoyment of passersby in Terminal C at Philadelphia International Airport.
“For anyone traveling over the holidays, I encourage them to stop by Terminal C to check out the installation,” says Amdur, who is currently serving as a senior artist-in-residence at Central European University in Budapest. “I am very excited about this new piece. Baroque in nature, it also extends many of my previous concerns, with the addition of diverse and unusual materials. Ideas about time – past, present, and future, as well as artistic production time – all play prominently.”
Consistent with her recent works, Amdur has assembled hundreds of colorful cosmetic sponges into asymmetrical compositions and adhered them to canvas. In a painstaking process, she initially amasses her “cast of characters” – pre-packaged cosmetic sponges – into miniature formations, and then glues them one-by-one onto a canvas backing. She then, as would an abstract painter, begins the slow process of visually massaging a non-objective landscape to life. At this point, she shifts to working with more traditional art materials – ink, gouache, and pastel pigment. It is the rubbed-on, vibrant range of powdered pigments that seduces. When installing the work, she performs a rigorous, time-consuming ritual, bending, folding, and pinning the artwork to gallery walls to create hills and valleys, pushing some shapes and colors to the fore while others recede.The resulting constructions, reminiscent of a bird’s eye view of a typographical map, lies somewhere at the intersection of architecture and nature, she explains.
“My work has always been about abundance and accumulation,” says Amdur, who adds that she received assistance creating the installation from Alyssa Long, a Rutgers–Camden psychology major, who participated in her international study course in Iceland; Sara Hawken, a 2015 graduate of Rutgers–Camden; Ron Cavelli, a Temple University graphic and interactive design major; and Leshe Scott, a Drexel University game art and production major.
Reflecting on the origins of her career, Amdur notes, “The installation format provided the greatest elasticity in a time when flexibility, protest, and re-inventions were part of the psychological culture. It enabled me to gather seemingly unrelated thoughts, techniques, and passions within one playing field. It continues to offer this opportunity – under an umbrella that shelters for extended periods of time – a critical and self-reflective safe place where ease and unease can coexist and where I can grow ideas in an organic fashion.”
A resident of Philadelphia, Amdur previously created Walking on Sunshine, a colorful resin floor installation spanning 4,000 square feet, in a Philadelphia subway station. In addition, she has had more than 50 solo and two-person exhibitions, and has appeared in numerous group shows. Her international exhibitions have been in Turkey, Hungary, and England. She has curated and organized national exhibitions and is the recipient of more than a dozen awards and grants. In 2012 and 2013, she was a fellow at international artist residencies in Iceland and France. Her work has been reviewed in national and international publications, including the most recent volume of International Painting Annual, New American Paintings, Sculpture Magazine, Fiber Arts, and New Art Examiner. Originally from Pittsburgh, Amdur received her bachelor of fine arts degree from Carnegie–Mellon University, and her master of fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Images of the installation can be viewed on Amdur’s website, margeryamdur.net/installation.html.