Maria Munroe


A story about Maria Munroe appeared on NBC news Channel 4 in Los Angeles on September 1, 2006. To view the broadcast Ashes To Art, please click on the picture above or click here to read the transcript.


An article on Maria Munroe's ETURNS, as they appeared in her gallery show at Frank Pictures Gallery. (May 14 through June 14, 2006) From the August 3, 2006 Los Angeles Times Home Section.


is a creative, spiritual and intellectual exploration of the challenging, and in this case celebratory, subject of death. Munroe’s medium is the funerary ash, and in her hands it becomes a wonderful, dynamic substance, transcendent and pure. The show consists of 25 sculptures, Munroe calls them Eturns. They are fabricated from a variety of media: sterling silver, ceramic, wooden marquetry, spun copper and blown glass and in conceived under her direction through a collaboration with a variety of master craftsmen. Each is occupied by a once living person, who either commissioned their piece themselves and was actively engaged in its conception and realization, or a commission was made specifically for them. “Because the topic is so immense and profound, to have something concrete in front of you helps us to focus on that conversation”, says Munroe, “obviously it’s a very personal investigation.” These sculptural objects command an appreciation as works of art. Love is the core action of the work, but they also fulfill the criteria of all timeless works of art. There are three essential components here under investigation: form, content and meaning. These are really timepieces, encapsulating whole life spans, functioning simultaneously in the past, the present and the future. They pose every relevant question as to the nature of art itself and to that of life itself and of what becomes of us afterwards. None of the pieces shown are available for sale. The prices shown are only an indication of the cost of fabricating a similar piece to be commissioned and custom made to the specifications of each individual collector to be created according to the imagination of the patron in conjunction with the artist. The exact price will vary with the substitution of various elements: i.e. size, shape, the gauge of the silver chosen, the choice of rosewood for ebony, copper for bronze. It is a great privilege to present this show. We offer it to you with the utmost reverence and respect for the silent guests who are sharing their vision with you today.

Maria Munroe’s house in Venice is busy with wonder. There were objects, sculptures everywhere, really unique pieces unlike anything I had seen before: long diamond shapes made of sterling silver, puzzle boxes in ebony, bowls of spun copper filled with a kind of coarse nacreous sand. And tables and tables of glass globes that seemed shot with stars. I was mesmerized. But I was unprepared for that revelation that followed, for in each of these sculptures lived a person. Maria sculpted funerary urns, each contained actual human remains. I had that day one of the supremely moving and emotional afternoons of my life. I knew immediately that I wanted to exhibit Maria’s work at the gallery. We will all know death. In my lifetime I have lost a mother and a father, my beloved dog, Mega, and many, far too many, friends. In the years to come there will be more loss and ultimately I too will be lost. Maria has given me a means of engaging the transition, in a way that I find defiant, beautiful and exciting. I hope the essential challenges her work poses are the same for all the art I show, that all great art inspires a dialogue between the mind and the spirit, between what is temporal and what is eternal, of what flirts with our idea of ourselves and what embraces it, a dare to make what we think we don’t know into what we intrinsically know. This is our Egypt, our here now, and our forever and ever. The pieces speak so eloquently of those they embody.














Munroe’s crystal Eturns involve a process of Vitrification, wherein funerary ash (cremains) is incorporated into the making of lead crystal objects. Some are hand held, some meant to be worn, others are globe or cube shaped. All are transparent, even the clear parts is the person. They are receptacles for the ash and made of the ash, through the transparency of the glass the ashes are visible. Their texture is like the coarse sand and ground shells one finds at the seashore, irregular in consistency and having a nacreous quality. Inside the orbs they sprawl like universes. Within the plume of ash, not only does the ash retain its form as ash, but it also vaporizes in the process of making the glass and tiny air bubbles form. Gas is trapped inside the bubbles and that gas, made up of essentially a person, is in perpetual motion giving you two forms of the same thing existing at the same time. The piece is totally activatedon every conceivable level ofconversation, formally, contextually and in its meaning.”

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