Anne Marchand - Tellus/Caelus: Seeing Earth and Sky

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Thursday February 25, 2021


February 25th to May 18th, 2021

“…Once a photograph of the Earth taken from outside is available…a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” –Fred Hoyle, astronomer, 1948

Tellus is the most ancient Roman goddess of the Earth. Servius (4th Century AD) calls her “guardian deity of Earth and by extension, the globe itself’. Her consort is the sky god Caelus, whose name means the heavens or the starry sky. –CR

The current exhibition features twenty recent paintings by Washington DC artist Anne Marchand. This solo exhibit marks a new level in the artist’s stylistic evolution over the last ten years. 

Marchand found her new path reading the latest edition of “space philosopher” Frank White’s book, The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution (2019). Based on interviews with astronauts who were in the Apollo program as well as on the International Space Station, the book articulates the psychological effect of actually seeing the Earth from space. While not their mission, in 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 were the first to turn their cameras away from the stars and toward the Earth, giving us the image prophesied by Fred Hoyle twenty years earlier: a photograph of the planet from the outside looking in. The effect of the experience itself on the astronauts was universally transformative, even overwhelming. Every one of them,whether from the 1960’s or much more recently in space have all acquired a new “whole earth perspective,” that is, a new understanding of the unity of all life on the planet and the interconnectedness of all its systems. Planetary Collective has produced a short film titled “Overview,” included below. 

Now, at the beginning of 2021, the paintings selected for this exhibit are expressions of the artist’s heartfelt connection to her understanding of the unity of creation found in so many religious traditions, ancient and modern, as well as informed by consideration of the space images of the Earth and the stars—both Tellus and Caelus. They bring Marchand’s long interests in cosmology and mythology together, and in particular the idea of the coming into being of the material world we know, against the mystery of our existence. Just as viewing the photographic images of the planet from space can provoke some of the “overview effect,” it is hoped that seeing these expressive paintings will inspire viewers in a similar way. Full of brilliant color and gesture, with dense surfaces layered with acrylic, ink, charcoal and other media, these paintings can provide the willing viewer with a sense of the way that having that “whole earth” perspective can be both individually and universally transformative, leading toward a more peaceful and just world for all. 

Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D., curator.

Artist’s Website