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MCJ Studio

Artist Statement

What matters is that you as the viewer are intrigued. Color, small symbols and full display of personality are a few of the many elements that play an animated role in the artwork of Marilva Berrenstein. The stories that are placed on the canvases demonstrate the playfulness of what people from the African diaspora encounter in the current setting of time. Our view has been strongly influenced by what we know and have been taught about history. In many cases this can overrule the beauty of existing traditions, word of mouth and development of tribes and nations.

What was once the beauty of community in which bonding, innovations and everyday life found its expression through music, word, images is being questioned, infected and affected. Loud, live and in color. We still are and our stories still need to be seen from that lens and perspective. Strip away societal pressure, filters and judgment and you are left with a pure and uncanny vision of who we are as people in our core. 

Marilva’s journey started with the understanding that her practice has more to do with the transfer of stories than the actual painting itself. Her early contact with visual and expressive art was through drawings, sketches and dance. The drawing and sketching allowed her to view and observe the natural and vulnerable state. The goal was to convey what people are about without the filter and bring forth any intriguing parts and elements about them. Dance was another way of understanding what happens internally. Through urban and underground dance styles she quickly learned to develop a physical vocabulary and worked diligently on development of it.

Marilva’s art practice has developed into the creation of paintings with acrylic and oil paint. Thinking back to the way of how stories and wisdoms are transferred mostly by the care of women, they have become the main character in a great number of paintings. The strong use of colors are rooted culturally as symbols and emotions that express language and behavior. The contemporary feel of her paintings comes from her view of allowing people to move through and with time. Especially in the western world where time is of the essence and connected to the theory of monetary value. 

In her paintings she sees time as a privilege that grants and allows people to explore their being in this world and particular. At times there is no specific timeframe and at other moments we need the contemporary time as the frame to see what matters, changed or stood still in our own development.

In her practice, she does not want to shy away from what we observe in each other or ourselves. We deserve to be seen and validated in our existence and not just the acceptance as others might see fit. This becomes more intricate when the contrast between color, belief, gender, roles, language and culture is prevalent. By allowing contrast to exist within an ever growing need for outside data and information, you welcome the story to unfold. The people will listen, see and experience more of what they allow and embrace the unknown.

As of now, MCJ studio is developing itself to be a place where the art of observance and storytelling will continue, To be amongst those whose story can be told. From 2018 Marilva has turned MCJ Studio to a hub for her creativity and has been showcasing her work through the (solo) exhibitions and online platforms.

The Foundation

The foundation of the work is the exploration of storytelling in today’s world. A focus is placed on people of the African diaspora that live in the Western World. The emphasis does lie on the representation of women from and within the African diaspora. It is a combination between what is known, accepted and what is evolving as we seek liberation and understanding of ourselves.

The first series of work in 2018 directly reflects the inner processing and reaction of different cultures, customs and beliefs. Here Marilva questions how black women move, think and experience their presence. Her artworks were exhibited in Rotterdam in 2019 and made an entrance to the public. 

Marilva starts her work with the use of journaling and sketches that bring a certain to the forefront. The process in which the question of issue at hand is formulated allows for a well formulated concept. To support the image, photos of muses, locations or colors are being gathered. The use of strong colors helps to amplify the message on canvas for Marilva. She works mostly on canvas with mediums like oil and acrylic. Most of the work is sketched beforehand on canvas. She also works on paper with mediums like pastel, charcoal, ink, color pencils and markers.

Furthermore, inclusivity is important and her connection with the underground dance scene and music have a great influence in her work. As a result, a network of diverse and multicultural people gives the vibrancy to discover the many stories that we all carry.