"I have been making hand-fabricated dresses for several years. The series was conceived after the passing of my mother five years ago, and continued after the unexpected and traumatic passing of my daughter a year and a half ago. After my daughter’s death I revisited the dresses, reworked some and fashioned several new ones. Although the clothes are three-dimensional, they are also a canvas for me. I am drawing, painting and printing body-related imagery on their surfaces – in many cases sewing the imagery into the garments. It is fitting to be hand sewing as my mother emigrated from Eastern Europe and worked in the garment industry. She held her family together and struggled to find a voice in her new country. In contrast, my daughter was completely at home in the modern world. She admired, loved and drew strength from her grandmother. My intent with Presence/Absence is to imbue familiar clothes with powerful associations of memory and loss, as well as with the rich relationship between generations."
Marion Held has exhibited extensively in the US and abroad. She has been awarded grants and fellowships from: NJ State Council on the Arts (two for sculpture), Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellows Award, Three Dodge Foundation Grants for Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale Foundation Fellowship, and an Aljira Emerge Fellowship. She was invited to the TDG4 (Tambacounda / Dakar / Geneva) International Workshop in Tambacounda (Senegal) 2004, the Fundacion Valparaiso, Mojacar Playa (Spain) 2004, Beer-Sheva International Biennale (Israel) 1993 and 1997, and the 33rd International Sculpture Symposium in Boleslawieca (Poland) 1997. Held’s work has been reviewed in numerous publications including: NY Arts, Sculpture, American Ceramics, Cover, The New York Times, and the Newark Star Ledger. Nationally, her work is part of the public collections of Grounds for Sculpture (NJ), Kenkeleba Sculpture Garden (NYC), The Montclair Art Museum (NJ), The Museum of Modern Art Artist Library (NY), the Newark Museum (NJ), The NJ State Mueseum, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VA). Internationally, Held’s work can be found in the public collections of the Negev Museum (Israel), the city of Boleslawiec (Poland), the city of Tambacounda (Senegal), and Tajimi City (Japan). Her most recent solo exhibition took place at the Hunterdon Art Museum during summer 2009, in Clinton NJ.