About Marjolyn van der Hart

the business of art is first making the work. In the studio making a piece of art.

Inspiring your Life with Images of the Past

Video Interview  |  CV  |  Process

We live in a world that is ephemeral. Images fly by us. Produced by us and then discarded or lost. At the core of this, is the concern that those images define us.

What does the past do? How does it influence our view of ourselves and our relationship to the world? Looking back at our histories we often get a sense of who we are today. Our identity and our view of our life is often formatted and shaped by images we see. Using nostalgia as my point of departure, I explore the perception of our realities. I use the past to inform us of our selves today.


I was the daughter of creative and adventurous parents. Immigrating to Canada from the Nederlands in the late 60s, my father began his life as an artist. I watched my father develop his art and business of selling art in the Toronto area. His passion for the ability to be free from the constraints of an corporate path inspired me to follow a similar route.  However, life was not as linear as expected.

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I began by completing a BA with Honours at Carleton University studying Mass Communications and following this a BFA at Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida. During this time, I studied in New York City at the New York Studio Residency Program which was affiliated with the Parson’s School of Art in the 90’s. Since completing school, I have lived in Toronto with my husband and two children. I travel extensively throughout the USA showing my work at highly competitive Juried Art Fairs and I am represented by Blue Crow Gallery in Toronto and  Wall Space Gallery in Ottawa Canada. My work has won several awards and has been shown at Affordable Art Fairs in New York City and Los Angeles.

I have always been interested in the meaning behind the message. Focusing upon Feminist art and art made by women, I studied the Artists that would challenge mainstream ideas of female identity and image. Artists such as Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger inspired the desire to raise awareness of identity and perception of the female role in our culture. The interest  of my work focused upon the media’s interpretation of our identity.

Presently the  use of the media is the main resource for my imagery. By collaging images taken from classic films, vintage magazines and found old photos, I use nostalgia as a form of redefining our modern identity.  I draw the viewer into a space that relates a story about modern day struggle. The themes of self Empowerment, balance of work and family in the Home Sweet Home series, and the desire to just run away in the  Escape imagery combine to show the narrative of how men and women cope with a world that has expectations of perfection.

This work is based upon recognition of the constraints and demands of our modern identity. Using self exploration and historical references, these works create a universal experience. Each image creates a cluster of thoughts, a memory or idea that takes us into another place. This place references the past, as though to take us out of the uncertain/unknown present and into romantic glory days that creates a nostalgic twinge. Stories develop by using found photos, vintage advertising, stills from classic films, music scores, and snippets of poetry. Narratives evolve as moments of images are placed together.

As the images collage, stories present themselves and memory becomes a binding force. 

Yet each image is interpreted in the context of Today.

Themes of home, independence, yearning for love and escape permeates the narratives. Each piece explores the search for connection and validation. This subjective representation drives the work. Yet the adaptation of the mid-century imagery enables the narratives to be easily accessed and understood.

There is a melding of time and space. By blending the present experience with the mid century references, there is clarification of our own place. Who are we as the world moves so quickly? Is identity defined by the “selfie”? As social media overtakes our daily life, connectedness and identity seems ephemeral. The “ideal” of home is omnipresent, permeating our life as we strive for success. As young women attempt to achieve their ideal of having it all, there is a renewed sense of loneliness. And then there is the Escape- the sense of just being in a place filled with light, life and love.

This work has a dialogue between the digital references and expressionistic brushwork. The hand is present.  The process is unique as I  create work in several stages. Working with vintage wallpapers and tissue paper, I initially create an abstraction that attempts to create a “feeling” of a story. The patterns, and layers of tissue paper, meld together to create an ephemeral vague dimension of space. Once this has dried, the story is introduced with digital layering, pastels and acrylic paint.

Imagery is introduced in a surreal nature so that you are brought into the whimsical nature of the scene.

Every image tries to touch on the personal realm of you the viewer.

It may remind you of a significant person in your life who filled it with connections and reality. Or it may convey a feeling of a place of release in which you are free from  the demands of work.

As viewers we are pushed to the surface of the painting and then drawn into the illusionistic space. As this push pull dynamic evolves in each piece, we are visually drawn into the romance of the past then thrust back into the present.

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