‘The heart of the place’ – a guest post inspired by Marrakech
The following article has been shared by one of our guests, artist and mixed media designer Agnes Pierscieniak. During the recent lockdown, Agnes drew upon her memories of Marrakech to branch out in to a new collection of artwork which speaks of the heart of the red city.
Here, she fondly describes her second-time discovery of Marrakech and the desert, and how this trip inspired her to creativity during lockdown at home and without access to her studio.
“I think about how I connected with this city, a mirage in my life. This collection tries to show what I found so beautiful in Morocco. How the walls and alleys looked like cubist paintings to my eyes, hundreds of shades of rose. The colors were so enthralling and I could never capture their endless beauty. I took more and more photos but it wasn’t quite the whole story.”
If you would like to see more of Agnes’ artwork, besides that featured here, details follow below.
The Heart of the Place
By Agnes Pierscieniak
I am learning to follow my heart.
I followed my heart to Marrakech. I had been here several years before but felt like I didn’t finish. Like I was rushed. Like I missed the best part.
When I had first visited Marrakech 8 years ago, it had been the first time in my life I had traveled somewhere so different. It was intoxicating. I remember walking through the streets of Marrakech and marveling how little the world seemed to have changed from how I imagined life in my history books. How it felt like we were lost in time. I was somehow transported to the golden age of the Silk Route, an era with donkeys, cobras and labyrinth streets.
And so I came back. I came back to slow down. To walk these streets again.
The Medina is even more beautiful than I remember, though perhaps more accessible through Instagram. We go for a walk when we land. We wander and discover. We are immensely proud to successfully return back to our hotel when Google Maps doesn’t quite work. We are guided by the walls, by kind shop keepers, by the products I remember hanging outside the shops. The shops and walls are my breadcrumbs to remember the path to get back to our home.
The walls captivate me. The souk—with thousands of rugs and crafts, each more beautiful the next—somehow numbs the senses. There is so much beauty and art I become a bit immune and overwhelmed. I take it one store at a time. I talk to the owner and learn about a few pieces. I marvel at the stories and the history behind each piece.
The second day, not interested in shopping, I start walking. Walking without a specific purpose. My aim is to get lost in the Medina and see what I discover next. My eyes take in the beauty and the color.
We live in the Medina for 10 days. I spend the next few days walking and photographing, trying to capture the energy of everything. I stay away from the main tourist parts of the souk and end up in alleys and passageways. Then the time comes to leave Marrakech and head to the desert.
We get to the desert, and the contrast is deep. We drive and I reflect upon the previous week. The chaotic Medina and the calm of the dunes. The yin and the yang. The endless vast open space is such a relief from the never-ending busyness of the souk. Both are needed to appreciate the other. The fast and the slow create a balance of experience.Travel is my source of inspiration. Walking the streets and simply observing is one of my favorite activities. I walk with a camera and try to capture moments to remember. Marrakech is a kaleidoscope, a place of juxtaposition and opposites. I marvel at the beauty of the crafts and the beauty of the walls. I follow the walls to get back to my Riad, paying close attention to each texture, each window, and each portal as clues in this maze.
Now, in the Pandemic, I look back. I open photos from November and again marvel at this magical place. I took for granted that I could come back anytime and that I would. The world closed down in an unexpected way and I am grateful I had the chance to experience what I did.
I think about how I connected with this city, a mirage in my life. This collection tries to show what I found so beautiful in Morocco. How the walls and alleys looked like cubist paintings to my eyes, hundreds of shades of rose. The colors were so enthralling and I could never capture their endless beauty. I took more and more photos but it wasn’t quite the whole story.
Why do some places capture our imagination? Why are we called to return time and again? What makes the magic sink deep into our hearts?
These collages are my pandemic break throughs. I didn’t have access to my art studio and I was trying to make art in my living room and then garage. Quarantined at home, I felt fewer of the responsibilities I typically put upon myself. I made for the joy of making. I was challenged to reconsider my ways of working and my typical processes. I’m grateful for the challenge as it inspired me to combine screen print and collage to create these one-of-a-kind prints.
I make art like how I wander. I head in a direction and trust that the way will work out. In this artistic process, I screen-printed the shapes first. I started out with an intention but the paint had a mind of its own. The brush leads and I follow.
I then slowly and carefully created compositions that were deliberate and designed. I took the time to connect colors and shapes to create scenes from the Medina. Each image is inspired by my memories. The art tries to translate the feeling I felt when walking the streets. It goes beyond the photograph which is a frozen moment, and tries to get to the heart of the place.
We all have our own lives to live but how many of us follow our hearts and how many of us learn to be practical? I have spent too long trying to be sensible. I have spent too long waiting for the future. This Pandemic has made me realize that I have one life. That if I want to go somewhere, I should take that trip now rather than postpone to the future. I am slowly realizing the “how” will become clear if I follow my heart. I admire those who are following their purpose in their life.
If I want to pursue a career I love or make art, now is the time to do it. I have been so productive in the last few months. It’s as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Life is beautiful. The world is beautiful. Travel helps me see this. Travel helps me leave the shoulds and follow my dreams.
50% of the proceeds from the ‘Medina and Souk Collection’ help Harbin Resque and Soi Dog Foundation. I am giving 50% of the proceeds from these collections to help homeless dogs in Asia. In my heart, it’s the organization that speaks to me. I want to help save the dogs from the horrific meat trade, and help the teams that are doing this significant work. And, so I will try.
Agnes is a designer, artist and teacher living in Los Angeles. Drawn to vibrant places with rich histories, Agnes is passionate about travel, meeting new people, and making beautiful things. She loves vibrant hues and exuberant patterns, creating art in a variety of media from hand dyed textiles to screenprints and collage. She received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and has taught at Otis, Otis Extension, USC and RISD. She shares her recent collection and the inspiration behind it.
“Color is my Life. Art is my way of translating what I see and sharing my experiences with you. Looking for beauty in the unexpected, I attempt to turn ordinary moments into extraordinary ones. I hope you can be inspired by these collections, and can travel the world of color with me.”
For further information please contact Agnes via –
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Further images of Morocco via our own Instagram feed.