In Marnie Blair’s artistic practice, she primarily works in printmaking and installation with a focus upon embodiment, medicine, technology, and architecture. Her artwork is strongly informed by her experience of surviving a cardiac arrest at the age of nineteen. At that time she was diagnosed with Long Q T Syndrome, a condition that affects the heart’s electrical system, which led to the implantation of a cardiac defibrillator. She is now on her third defibrillator, the second of which was recalled due to a faulty battery. Blair’s artworks are explorations of the intersections between fragility and resilience; the biological and the artificial; private and public; decay and resuscitation; and the body and architecture. She is particularly interested in how one’s sense of embodiment and identity become profoundly affected by illness, diagnosis, and recovery. Her prints and installations interrogate what it means to be dependent upon a mechanical device for survival, to inhabit a cyborg-like existence as part human/part machine. These questions are not only personally relevant but can also be applied to the current transformation of human existence due to our increasing reliance upon many different types of technologies.
Blair mixes process-based methods of making with objects found in derelict industrial and medical sites such as grain terminals, power stations, and hospitals. The amalgamation of found and hand made materials in her work resonates with her experience as both biological and artificial. She is particularly attracted to using rust and industrial found objects due to their association with decay and uselessness and how they can become transformed through art making. This way of working also addresses the ways that identity can be enhanced or infringed upon by technologies, architectural structures, and institutions.
Marnie Blair received a BFA (Honours) from Lakehead University and an MFA from the University of Calgary. She has studied at the Royal College of Art in London, UK, the Studio Art Centers International in Florence and has interned at Manhattan’s Lower East Side Print Shop. She has worked as The Print and Paper Facilitator at The Banff Centre and has taught in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. Blair has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the US, the UK, Mexico, Germany, Malaysia and Japan.