Mary Ascher, Universal Rhythms, Date Unknown

Mary Ascher
Universal Rhythms, Date Unknown
Oil on Canvas 
Location: Campus, The Mishkin Gallery 

Theme: Self-growth and Self-help in American Life

Self-growth and self-help training and workshops began booming in America in the 2000’s, but it has been an American tradition since Benjamin Franklin’s “Autobiography” in 1818. Franklin called self-help and self-growth –  “Project for Moral Perfection”. The United States has one of the biggest self-help industries in the world with a projected income of $13 billion (about $40 per person in the US) by 2022. In 2019, I decided to be a part of this fast growing industry and thus, I decided to relate these works of art to self-reflection and transformation. 

Not a lot is known about Mary Ascher. She was a painter and a printmaker, born in 1900 in Leeds, England and she died in New York City in 1988. Her art style is of fauvism – a style of vibrant, bold, expressionistic color and highly gestural strokes. This method flourished in France in the early 1900s. Ascher studied at the New York School of Applied Design for Women and at Hunter College,CUNY. Her works are highlighted in museums such as the Bat Yam Museum & Ein Harod L’Osmanut in Israel and the Smithsonian Institute, among others. She was the president of the American Society on Contemporary Artists from 1973-1975. She received a career achievement award in the arts from Baruch College’s Alumni Association in 1968.  

This painting shows a typical fauvist style of bold strokes and vivid versions of colors in nature. Examples are the eye-catching colors of teal and red mashed together with dark green. The image shows a woman in a small boat sailing forward towards the mountains. The water’s pink and blue shades translate the calmness of the scene.  

I envision myself as the woman on the boat, letting go of control, looking ahead and venturing ahead even though I am uncertain of what I would see or experience when I get to the foot or the other side of the mountain. This, to me, is a symbol of hope, trust and determination.

Questions to the viewer – In your own introspection, imagine that you are the woman in the boat, what do you see, feel, and think of this image in relation to your journey as a seeker? As a human being?