Artist’s inspiration grows with the flow

By: Colin Berr, Journal Staff Writer
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Nestled in the rolling foothills along the American River, landscape sculptor Deanna Marsh combines metal, kiln-formed glass and fossils in her Auburn studios to create majestic interpretations of the natural world. After 13 months of creation, her works are on display at the “Brilliant Earth” installation at the Blue Line Gallery in Roseville, along with those of fellow artists Judi Stickney, David Robertson, Christopher Schiller, and Kevin Evensen. “I seek to reconnect the viewer of my landscape sculptures with the natural world, a relationship that is so removed now from daily experience,” Marsh, of Auburn, said. Her work takes inspiration from the Sierra foothills, the American River canyon, and from the varied terrain of the Western United States that spans the Pacific coastline. “Water is a metaphor in my work for our life-path — its calm or turbulence, twists and turns, erosion and replenishment,” Marsh explained. “The steel and glass rivers are filled with fish working their way upstream and gold flecks making their way downriver. The slices of river carve up our ecosystems like issues of private landownership, state management, historic exploitation and geologic fault lines.” Marsh and Stickney were asked by the Blue Line to fill up 125 feet of wall space in the gallery. Together, they devised the Brilliant Earth installation. “We asked ourselves, why would anyone strive to save what they don’t appreciate? And what are our roles as artists in bringing those two concepts together — helping others to see and appreciate the landscape as we do — and thereby instill in them the desire to preserve it,” Marsh said. From that conversation, Brilliant Earth was born. “I thought it was a most outstanding show. The works of Deanna and Judi totally complement one another,” said Rosie Stilwell, of Special Projects at Placer Arts, a nonprofit catalyst for the arts and humanities in Placer County. Marsh has been a participating artist in the Placer Arts Studio Tour for about five years, and has also served on the steering committee. “I’m disturbed by a lot of things mankind is doing to this earth,” Marsh said. “The conflict between nurturing our environment and exploiting it insistently surfaces in my work.” Marsh can often be found horseback riding, scuba diving, kayaking, or backpacking — interacting with the landscape before re-describing it in her sculptures. “At times like these, I see forces at work everywhere, whether human vs. nature, industry vs. nature, or nature vs. nature. Yet, I am an optimist! And being a spiritual thinker supports my enthusiasm for renewal and restoration,” Marsh said. In the summer of 2009, her sculpture “A Grander Flow,” was featured on the cover of Building Magazine. Thirty-eight feet in length, the fused-glass river flows down the entry wall of Enermodal Engineering corporate headquarters in Toronto, Canada. Marsh seeks to better her relationship with nature within her own workspace. “My metal studio is surrounded by rolling foothills of oak and my horses and barn animals. It runs on solar power, and I work fastidiously to recycle materials,” she said. Her work will be on display until June 12 at the Blue Line Gallery, 405 Vernon St., Roseville.