Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Merle Temkin

Merle Temkin

Temkin, born and educated in Chicago and based in New York, draws our attention to the sheer formal beauty of the fingerprint, which, in heavily ridged pieces built up with thick impasto strokes and dangling threads suggestive of embroidery, may remind viewers of mazes, exotic animal hides or the strata of an archaeological dig. The artist's technique is the opposite of slick; if there's a single word to describe Temkin's work, it's "handmade."

In her recent solo exhibition, Temkin combines works in acrylic paint, dye and thread on cloth with others on cut paper, she both objectifies that most personal of marks--the pattern of whorls and sickle-shaped lines that distinguish every person from any other--and turns it into a surprisingly universal aesthetic statement about the simultaneous uniqueness and anonymity of human identity. The conundrum of a fingerprint as the ultimate signature is that one looks at first glance much like any other; only by examining it in microscopic detail, as she has done here, can we associate it with an individual.

Most effective and haunting are the works on paper, whose sliced-and -reconfigured quality suggests a fracturing and reassembling of identity with implications that are both psychological and --especially in this era of increasing surveillance--political.

-Kevin Nance, Art Critic, "Art Exhibit Redefines Handmade," Chicago Sun-Times, 1/17/2007
The subject matter of my work is my own greatly enlarged fingerprint. It is the most personal signature, uniquely my own and at the same time, universal and anonymous. The works function as self-portraits.

My combined medium of paint and needlework is influenced by "women's work" of the past. Hanging threads left from the stitching process, suggest a secret side or something turned inside-out.

The threads of family are very strong. They string one generation to another and to another. And hold us together in a time of need.

View Merle Temkin's CV (PDF)

My Left Index FingerMy Left Index FingerPairBullSunset (Fingerprint)Sunset (fingerprint)Installation View

New York, New York

No contact information provided for this artist.

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