Michael J. Marx is a California-based PMC sculptor who specializes in unique and original works. He has been working with PMC since 2000 and believes that “Sanity is the Playground of the Unimaginative.” His work is currently being shown at multiple Northern California art galleries.
Born in Massachusetts in 1969, he lived there for 18 years before becoming a born-again Californian in 1987. He currently resides in Alameda, California where he has lived since 2000. He primarily works in PMC with occasional forays into mixed-media and polymer clay.
I create jewelry that is wearable sculpture. I believe that jewelry is not just for the embellishment and adornment of the body with precious metals. Jewelry should not be any less of a medium for provocation than any other art form, and so, it is not exempt from having to provoke a response.
I have been a sculptor and artist as long as I can remember. My childhood gifts were art supplies as often as they were toys or books. In the beginning, I sculpted in FIMO, a polymer clay, and this honed my ability to transform my visions into 3-D images. In 2000, I took my first PMC (precious metal clay) class and was hooked. PMC’s affinity for texture, flexibility of form, and choices of finishing techniques make it ideal for me as an artist.
Each piece I create is meant to inspire a full spectrum of emotional reactions in both the individual wearing the sculpture and the public viewing it, whether a smile, frown, joy, anger, or disgust. This is not to say that I have not made “pretty” things, but I do like poking the proverbial hornet’s nest from time to time. My work also has what I call “the giggle factor”. As I envision a piece and begin working on it, I know I’m on the right track when I start laughing to myself.
Symbols have always played an important role in my creativity. Author Margot Asquith once said, “Symbols are the imaginative signposts of life.” Symbols are part of our everyday life: religious icons, traffic signs and ad logos. While there are common definitions associated with certain symbols, I appreciate the fact that people attach their own meaning and importance to symbols and that the response to a symbol can be different with each viewer based on their own life experiences.
Symbols in my work range from the obvious to the obscure and often reference experiences and emotions that have made lasting impressions in my life: travel, the “voices in my head”, things that make me laugh or smile, memories of fine and pop art, religious iconography, tattoo flash, Christian/Catholic churches, Jewish synagogues, Mayan deities and shaman images, and Egyptian art. As influential as these all are, ancient symbols have had the greatest impact on my art.
Whether reinterpreting existing symbols, creating new symbols, or tearing apart and recombining them to change their impact and meaning, symbols are the majority of what my art is about. For example, the heart as a symbol of love gets broken and combined with a middle finger to create the “Cosmic F--- You” which represents the hostility, anger, and pain of a break-up. Or the combination of a half-gorilla and half-devil which represents my self-portrait.
I adopted the symbol of the spiral very early in my work for a variety of reasons, and it accompanies each piece I make as it goes out into the world. The spiral is universal, existing in nature, from microscopic crystal formations to the shape of entire galaxies. It is the most ancient symbol found on every civilized continent and is a part of every culture. It represents the “life-death-rebirth” cycle. It represents the sun. And, although each loop of the spiral brings one back to the same place, it represents moving on to a higher and more evolved level at each turn. Just as my work continues to evolve and become more refined over time.
By working in PMC I feel as if I am being true to myself and true to my art. To spend the time making the images and symbols that I do, is to listen to the voices in the creative void. It allows my passion for art and beauty to have a voice and to leave my mark on the world.