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This exhibit of drawings and cyanotype photograms is an elegy for the world cultural site of Palmyra in Syria, lost at the hands of ISIS. The artist's reception is Sunday, November 3, from 2 to 4pm.

Smoke and Ruins: Palmyra

Artist Statement by Marsha Goldberg

The destruction of the ancient archaelogical site of Palmyra, Syria, by ISIS in 2015, is just one of many tragic and senseless acts of war in recent years. I have used this event to consider distant acts of violence and how they are communicated to us through images and media. 

The project began with a graphite drawing of a news photograph. The subject was a cloud of smoke, and the caption read “The Moment the Temple of Bel was Destroyed by ISIS”. The abstract form of smoke represented the ending of an architectural treasure that had lasted thousands of years. I followed with a series of reiterations of my drawing, tracing enlarged details with ink on transparent acetate and then using those to make cyanotypes. 

As I learned more about the structures that had been destroyed, I made drawings of the fragments that remain, using graphite powder mixed with mineral spirits on Yupo synthetic paper. The dissolving quality of this drawing medium on the seemingly delicate (yet actually strong) translucent surface feels appropriate for the existing ruins, which have become reduced versions of themselves but are not lost completely.

Re-stating, and re-imagining this subject leads me to consider the connectedness we can feel with earlier civilizations when faced with the evidence of both their existence and loss.

I am grateful for a residency at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Saratoga, Wyoming, where much of this work was produced.