Marsha Connell was nurtured in
her love for art, nature, and learning by her grandfather, Samuel Riss,
watercolor painter and Renaissance farmer in Upstate New York. She
received her MFA in sculpture at San Francisco State University, and
currently teaches in the art department at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Recipient of several California Arts Council Artist-in-Residence
grants, she also conducts arts projects in schools and creative
A premonition of the Gulf War in a
dream impelled me to create the "Dream Vessels." Begun in
spring 1991, the series has taken on its own momentum, now over one
hundred thirteen titles. Like intimately scaled murals, the collages
incorporate stories about family, cultural history, and the
environment-including the devastation of war, oil spills, the Oakland
firestorm, and the Three Mile Island nuclear plant disaster, as well
as simple pleasures and life's mysteries -- dance, music, motherhood.
They also function as homages and memorials to all the victims of
September Eleventh, to my grandmothers and grandfathers, to artists
who have been my mentors and inspiration -- guardians of the creative
My daughter, Reba, in Jerusalem for her
junior year abroad, said, as we parted during the Gulf War, "When
you think about me in Israel, try not to worry. Why don't you do
something productive, like make a collage? And I will make a
watercolor for you. Her painting came with a poem, and my collage
making of healing "letters without words" grew to a ten-year
Dream Vessels #86 -- Nocturne
On retreat in a ramshackle house with
artists and writers, soldiers take us to watch war games. Uniformed
players ring a grassy hillside. A deep voice booms out: "The
women soldiers will go first!"
Women load cannons, singing a working
rhythm, chatting about girl things -- hair and nails and boyfriends.
Their steady murmuring almost soothes, drowns undercurrents of fear.
It is astounding that they take this grim task so lightly.
We observers back away from the guns.
Huddled together, we lie down on a parking lot at the bottom of the
hill, covering our heads. Someone puts hands over my ears. Hiding my
eyes, I peek through the spaces between my fingers. Explosions rumble
over us, through us. The ground drums reverberations. My heart roars
in my ears. My eyes sting with smoke. I choke on protests.
"Bowl Of Eggs"
You approach me
two speckled eggs, huge,
held out to me, in a bowl.
this new armful,
I see the shells are cracking.
I don't know how
I'm to take care of them,
my bowl was already full.