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Creating Art for Our “Dire Times”

Dusk, Railroad - 2008 - 30 x 48 - Oil: Canvas

Dusk, Railroad – 2008 – 30 x 48 – Oil: Canvas

Like many of us, artist Marcia Annenberg is worried. First, there’s climate change. Then there’s the growing erosion of U.S. democracy—including the loss of many long-held civil liberties—and the tendency of mainstream media to replace hard news with entertainment and fluff.

“We’re in dire times,” the Manhattan-based Annenberg begins. “It’s frightening. The only consolation is that the American system of government was developed to protect us from efforts to subvert our institutions in negative ways.”

Annenberg’s work—color-driven abstracts and installations and paintings meant to jolt the viewer’s political awareness—are in numerous permanent collections: The London Jewish Museum; the Vad Yashem Art Museum in Jerusalem; the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Lithuania; and the Florida Holocaust Museum, among them. In New York City, she is represented by the Flomenhaft Gallery, one of Chelsea’s most respected women-owned exhibition spaces.

Annenberg sat down with Eleanor J. Bader on a blisteringly hot June morning. Surprisingly, despite the heavy subject matter, the pair found a great deal to laugh about as they discussed what it means to call oneself a progressive, humanist, activist-artist at this particular moment.