Snakes, rats, auspicious signs: Marcel honors the Lunar New Year in art

“Chinese Zodiac,” serigraph,
approx. 4″ x 7″

On Sunday, as lions and dragons dance in the Chinatown streets amid firecrackers meant to chase away evil spirits, one Torpedo Factory artist will usher in the Year of the Snake amid quiet and creativity: Marcel, a painter, printmaker, and sculptor who’s long found inspiration in the Lunar New Year’s heartfelt sense of renewal and hope.

Several years ago, while pondering the paper placemat at a Chinese restaurant, Marcel realized that the traditional Asian zodiac combined elements that naturally fascinate her: astrology, animals, and color. She soon set about honoring these venerable beasties in varied media, from celluclay-and-acrylic wall sculptures to eye-popping serigraph prints, which she makes available as greeting cards in her Torpedo Factory studio.

“Year of the Tiger,”
celluclay and acrylic

“People seem to love them and buy them for all sorts of reasons,” she explains. “It’s their birth year, or that of a friend, or the color—or it might be their favorite animal.”

Does the artist have a favorite animal? Although her overall affection for nature is clear in everything she creates, Marcel is quick to recall the public reaction to the celestial animal that presided over 2008.

“It amazes me that people are repelled by the Year of the Rat, when it’s one of my favorites,” she says. “Having been owned by two adorable rats, Sophie and Mindy, and getting to know just how affectionate and intelligent they are, I cannot imagine that anyone would not love them—and I think my love for them comes across in my work.”

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Torpedo Factory! Seek out your favorite animal with Marcel in studio 334.

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