Marsha Pels

1985-87 - metal: bronze

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"Acheron was built as a direct result of my visiting both Dachau and Pompeii while I was in Europe on a Prix de Rome. It is also a memorial to the death of my friend, the sculptor Ana Mendieta who died in September 1985, upon my return from Italy. In trying to deal with the difficult narrative of three distinct kinds' of death or methods' of murder: mass, communal and individual, I choose the image of the boat as a metaphor for the transport of lost souls.

The boat form is a potent image in so many cultures as the spiritual bridge between life and death. It seemed a monumental enough construct in which I could house layers of ancient and modern meaning, without necessarily being a cliche. This was the first time in my work that I directly cast bronze bodies by lying down in the sand. It was a combined instinctive and literal response to the photographs I saw of events at Dachau and the images I saw at Pompeii--bodies in gestures of sleep or movement frozen in time by molten lava, and a homage to Ana's own process of using her body in or on the ground in her photographs and siteworks.

'Acheron', is the Greek mythological name for one of the rivers in Hades, over which Charon ferried the souls of the dead. The River Styx, being the most famous among these tributaries, means hateful. Acheron means woeful." – Marsha Pels

About the Work
About the Work
metal: bronze
overall: 54 in x 144 in x 48 in
cast- lost wax and open petrobond sand, patinated (ferric nitrate, cupric nitrate, ammonium chloride on figures, titanium dioxide on netting and boat)
Gift of The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc.
Acheron by Marsha Pels

  • Acheron by Marsha Pels
  • Acheron by Marsha Pels