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by Charles T. Morey

Being present during critical periods of Rosemary Starace’s artistic evolution over the past several years has been an exciting and gratifying experience. She and her work are unique. To say that I have learned from her is an understatement; so I would like to make some kind of public utterance in appreciation of this high privilege, and to encourage other people to get to know her and her work, to share in this joy.

The work represented here [the Interior Geomtery series], from the period 1993-1995, deals overtly with the seeming dichotomy between will and feeling and other pairs of opposites. This is an artistic dilemma and also a human one. Starace, with her particular background and temperament, is particularly tuned to the subtleties of this dilemma.

This dichotomy plays out artistically in that all contemporary artists tend to inherit an endemic disease which consists of conceptually trained people trying to deal with perceptual languages. In other words, in painting, intellect tends to confuse emotion, at least in the initial stages of image formation. The stronger the intellect (as in Starace’s case), the more energy is required to mesh with what is basically an emotional thrust.

Humanly, it’s an issue because this dichotomy is a fundamental aspect of who we are. Each of us has to make heroic accommodations to these internal struggles. The 20th century makes this harder still. Here, Starace consciously set forth to display these two universal and inevitable human factors in such a way as to make the opposing forces intelligible and to point the way toward their reconciliation in both art and life.

This work represents a symphonic coalescence not only of the organic and the mechanical, but also of several of Starace’s recurring motifs, such as the house, the egg or circle, the X’s, and the juxtaposition of unlikely patterns and textures (as with her borders). They are all brought together in a way that reaffirms not only the discrete potency of the symbols themselves, but also their curious and meaningful interrelations.

Starace’s deliberate use of this symphonic accumulation of symbols and patterns is the perfect device for underscoring her message. A painting, after all, is an arena in which something happens all at once (as opposed to poetry and music which take place over time.) We are given here the simultaneous impact of the organic and mechanical, which is presented and resolved in one image. The essence of this experience must remain non-verbal. The closest one can come is to say that in meshing the opposing qualities visually, the work produces a visceral satisfaction in the viewer.

As exciting and moving and dangerous as some of these pieces are, they also make people feel safe. Only when we feel safe can we face reality or fully absorb the truth and joy of the conjoining of these two opposing forces. Others tell the truth without a shred of grace. In this work, Starace has held up a mirror to the human race. The portrait is unflinching but beautiful, strong and above all, graceful. This work depicts and affirms what it is to be human and, at least in the moment of comprehension, heals the split nature we all share.

Yes, Starace’s work does indeed show all of us who we are—precisely, combinations of intellect and emotion, of order and passion, of structure and fire. Ex post facto, it is easy and comfortable for us to see this—rows of protean embryos safely contained in Euclidean grids—but this visual construct works because the person who gave birth to it not only went through the crucible in the creation of this work but also has suffered the anguish of these opposing forces during her life. And necessarily, she is an artist.

Charles T. Morey is Professor of Fine Art (Emeritus), University of Toronto