Most of my sculptures are inspired from books that I read and feel passionate about. I particularly enjoy doing monumental site specific sculpture globally. I was commissioned to do a site specific sculpture for the Hall of Fame, Wingate, Israel, to memorialize the Jewish athletes that were killed in the Holocaust. The powers that be at Yad Veshem approved of my Chai/Life and it has been on exhibit since 1994.
I currently have 21 sculptures on exhibit in public places internationally. Most are monumental in size. The photograph of the 16.5 foot high Portal No 3, Series 2bb, installed at a new entrance in Modiin, Israel, was taken just after installation. The sculpture needed time to rust over the weld and scuff marks caused during installation. I have been doing a series of Portals and I found it interesting to see my work evolve into labyrinths and then into Finger Labyrinths and also sculptures. Labyrinths are a form of Portal since walking them can be considered a walking meditation that takes you to your center. I have the definition of a Labyrinth and a Why Walk the Labyrinth? document on my website.
I enjoy following Ockham’s Razor theory that states, “What can be done with less, is done with more in vain.”
Statement by the Director of
The Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida
As written in the catalogue of Marcia Raff’s one woman exhibition at the museum —
In the words of Henry Flood Robert, Jr, Director of the Jacksonville Museum of ContemporaryArt, Jacksonville, Florida:
“The work of Marcia Raff reflects two important and distinct factors found in contemporary art today – delicacy and power. This unique combination is accomplishment which is testimony to Marcia Raff’s concern for impeccable execution and strong geometric forms. Acute attention to detail, finishes and surface texture move in and out of Marcia’s work like a Cartier jeweler. Often influenced by the power of words, her “word symbols”, which adorn many of her pieces are symbolic of her life’s experiences, triumphs and tragedies. Beautifully crafted, through the use of diverse mediums, Marcia presents the viewer with an exciting variety of cast bronze, brass, ceramics and steel.”
Statement by Superintendent at Ward Pound Ridge
“Marcia Raff describes herself as a “professional sculptor interested in all that has to do with evolving consciousness”. A member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, of the International Sculptors Society, USA and an Exhibiting Artist Member of the National Arts Club, USA, Marcia Raff draws inspiration from books she feels passionate about. “Like architect Richard Meier, I strive for purity, simplicity and clarity”, she states, adding, “I like my work to have meaning and have it resonate emotionally. I particularly enjoy doing monumental site-specific sculpture internationally as well as nationally”. Raff lists among her heroes (she also describes them as teachers) French sculptor Rodin, Romanian born sculptor Constantin Brancusi, American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, British writer Arthur Koestler, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and Nobel prize winning American physicist Richard Feynman.
The record of Raff’s achievements makes clear her fascination with monumental sculpture. She has either exhibited or received commissions to create monumental works in places as diverse as the entrance to the Israeli community of Macabbim (Serendipity, 1997), the University of Florida’s Hilton Hotel and Conference Center (Feynman’s Fancy) 1998, that University’s School of Architecture (Columns 1, 2 & 3, Series III, 1992) and the School of Journalism (either/or, 1993), the New York City Park District’s facilities at Broadway Malls (Columns 1, 2 & 3, Series III, 2006) at the New York City’s Broadway Malls at Verdi Square (Feynman’s Fancy, 2006), Westchester Park District’s Ward Pound Ridge Reservation (Columns 1, 2 & 3, Series III), Port Warwick, Virginia, (Columns 1, 2 & 3, Series III), Modiin, Israel, (Portal No. 1, Series 3aa, 12 ft high), Hall of Fame, Wingate, Israel, (Chai/Life ), Weizmann Institute’s Clore Garden of Science, Rehovot, Israel, (Feynman’s Fancy), a corporation in London, England, (Columns 1, 2 & 3, Series I)
Raff’s work has been exhibited in many public places, galleries and museums. In 1997 she was awarded a one woman exhibit at the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida. Twelve of her monumental sculptures are on exhibit internationally. The Royal Academy of Arts, London, England thought so highly of her work it accepted four of her sculptures in three Summer Exhibitions (1989, 1991 and 1992). In September of 2006, Raff had a one woman exhibit at Gracious Home exhibiting twenty three of her sculptures. Clearly, Raff intended that some of her creations, such as Helping Hands, 3’s A Crowd and McDonald’s News Column (you can view these at www.marciaraffstudio.com) amuse the viewer. But one of her works, a stone sculpture entitled “Gravestone”: Portal No. 3 is sobering. Displayed in Hadeed Cemetery, Israel, “Gravestone” is the tombstone of her late husband, Marshall Raff. On it, there is a yet-to-been graved stone panel where her name will someday appear next to her husband’s.
Commenting on Marcia Raff’s 1997 exhibition at the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, museum director Henry Flood Robert, Jr. offered the following observation:
“The work of Marcia Raff reflects two important and distinct factors found in contemporary art today – delicacy and power. This unique combination is an accomplishment which is testimony to Marcia Raff’s concern for impeccable execution and strong geometric forms. Acute attention to detail, finishes and surface texture move in and out of Marcia’s work like a Cartier jeweler. Often influenced by the power of words, her “word symbols”, which adorn many of her pieces, are symbolic of her life’s experiences, triumphs and tragedies. Her sculptures are beautifully crafted. Through the use of diverse mediums, Marcia presents the viewer with an exciting variety of cast bronze, brass, ceramics and steel. She is one of the few artists who can change mediums and almost immediately create sculptures that are successful”.
Why Do I Make Portals?
A portal is an entrance or gateway. It makes me feel good to make a connection to Portals by using them as the subject of my sculptures. I’ve always been intrigued with the many varieties of Portals in architecture. Most often we think of them as an entry to a building but it could also be thought of as a metaphor; as an entry to your center.
Walking through my monumental Portal sculptures could have several meanings, one of which could be to walk from ignorance through to knowledge. Another meaningful Portal could be a Labyrinth.
A Labyrinth is a path that was born approximately 2300-700 years ago to represent wholeness. Labyrinths can be thought of as a familiar form of pilgrimage; people can walk the path ascending towards enlightenment or salvation. Walking the Labyrinth with others reminds us that we are all on the path together, each in our own way. Later the religious significance of Labyrinths faded, although recently their spiritual aspect has seen resurgence.
Today it’s walked mainly for meditation and as a tool for peace and guidance in this troubled world. By walking the Labyrinth, you can trace the path of your life on earth, beginning with birth at the entrance and ending with death at the center. The way out symbolizes rebirth. According to an American mythologist, the labyrinth resists our attempts at definition as do all great symbols and archetypes. There are great benefits to be derived by walking a Labyrinth.
Dr. Herbert Benson, of the Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, conducted research that has found focused walking meditations are highly efficient at reducing anxiety and eliciting what Dr. Benson calls the ‘relaxation response’. This effect has significant long term health benefits, including lower blood pressure and breathing rates, reduced incidents of chronic pain, reduction of insomnia, improved fertility, and many other benefits. Regular meditative practice leads to greater powers of concentration and a sense of control and efficiency in one’s life. Labyrinth walking is among the simplest forms of focused walking meditation, and the demonstrated health benefits have led hundreds of hospitals, health care facilities, and spas to install labyrinths in recent years.
As Dr. Lauren Artress, who is an authority on Labyrinths, points out, the seeking of answers to our questions is the act of walking a sacred path. When we walk the labyrinth, we discover our sacred inner space. We are attracted to healing tools such as a labyrinth because it can deepen our self-knowledge and empower our creativity. Walking the labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight into the life journey.
Each person’s walk is a personal experience. How one walks and what one receives differs with each walk. Some people use the walk for clearing the mind and centering. Others enter with a question or concern. The time in the center can be used for receiving, reflecting, meditating, or praying, as well as discovering our own sacred inner space. What each person receives can be integrated on the walk out. Your walk can be a healing and sometimes very profound experience or it can be just a pleasant walk. Each time is different.
It calms those in the throes of transition, and helps us to see life in the context of a path. We realize we are not humans on a spiritual path, but rather spiritual beings on a human path. It urges actions and stirs creative fires. To those who are in sorrow, it gives solace and peace. The journey is different for everyone, as is life, for we each bring different raw material to the labyrinth. We bring our uniqueness, and often depart with a greater sense of oneness and unity. So, walk as you are with the understanding that you can access the truth in your soul. There is no wrong way to walk a labyrinth.
Walking the labyrinth can be thought of as a path to your soul.
Six of my Portals are Labyrinths originally planned to be installed in the ground to walk with your feet but I soon realized they can also be installed in a vertical position to be walked with your fingers to receive the same benefits.