Professor’s Artwork Selected for Display at New U.S. Embassy in Suriname

By Tom McLaughlin

Over the course of her distinguished career, Margery Amdur has served as a veritable ambassador of the arts.

The associate professor of art at Rutgers University–Camden has displayed her inspired, mixed-media constructions in solo and group exhibitions and installations throughout the world, while offering countless students insight into her intuitive, meticulous, and methodical approach to the artistic process.

It is fitting, then, that Amdur’s original artwork now hangs prominently in the atrium gallery, to the delight of visitors, at the new U.S. Embassy in Suriname, located in the South American country’s capital city of Paramaribo.

The U.S. Department of State selected the piece, “Amass #17,” for its permanent collection via curators of its Art in Embassies (AIE) program. For more than 50 years, the AIE program has promoted cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and a dynamic artist exchange.

According to Patrick Geraghty, public diplomacy and public affairs advisor for the U.S. Embassy in Suriname, the opening of a new American embassy brings with it amazing potential for public engagement. A key component of that outreach, he says, is the artwork of the AIE program, and Amdur has helped to fulfill that mission.

“Art is true soft diplomacy, transcending national borders and building connections among peoples,” says Geraghty. “The choice of Margery Amdur to be a visiting artist in Suriname has benefited our embassy on several fronts.”

Geraghty notes that the “bold and bright three-dimensional piece” has already provoked numerous discussions on art and its role in society. Amdur also took time to work with local art students, he says, not only explaining her influences and journey as an artist, but also leading a workshop wherein students created their own pieces. In addition, at a public outreach event, the Rutgers–Camden professor “won over a large and diverse crowd with her animated and informative presentation,” which was followed by a question-and-answer session with the artist.

In October 2016, Amdur was invited to participate in the AIE program. In addition to visiting Paramaribo, she flew to Riga, Latvia, where she also led workshops at different institutions, each including a public presentation on her work and career.

Amdur also recently had a piece, “Amass #16,” purchased by U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Nancy Pettit for her personal collection at her residence.

“Margery is a fantastic ambassador for the United States and has fulfilled the Art in Embassies’ ideal to engage, educate, and inspire global audiences,” says Geraghty. “We are truly thankful for her contributions.”

The influence of 20 years as an installation artist is evident in the complex works that Amdur assembles, combining aspects of installation art, painting and sculpture.

She explains that “Amass #16” and “Amass #17” are large wall constructions made out of thousands of small foam pieces that she initially glues together, making small units that she then attaches to a canvas. These units were then colored with ink, gouache, and pastel pigment and sealed.

“I create the works on unstretched canvases, however, when installed, I stuff the pieces from behind, creating mounds that are reminiscent of what we experience in nature,” explains Amdur.  “When finalized and attached to the wall, the works feel as if Mother Nature has inserted herself into ‘man’s constructed nature’ – the built landscape.”

A resident of Philadelphia, Amdur previously created “Walking on Sunshine,” a colorful resin floor installation spanning 4,000 square feet, in a Philadelphia subway station. In addition, she has had more than 50 solo and two-person exhibitions, and has appeared in numerous group shows. Her international exhibitions have been in Turkey, Hungary, England, Iceland, and Poland. She has curated and organized national exhibitions and is the recipient of more than a dozen grants and awards, including most recently as a senior artist in residence at Central European University in Budapest.

Her work has been reviewed in national and international publications, including Sculpture Magazine, New American Paintings, Fiber Arts, and New Art Examiner, and was selected as a finalist for the Aesthetica Art Prize. Originally from Pittsburgh, Amdur received her bachelor of fine arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University and her master of fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Since 2004, Amdur has served as head of the studio program in the Department of Fine Arts at Rutgers–Camden. She took students to Iceland in 2014 and 2015, and plans to continue to participate in the immersive Learning Abroad program offered at Rutgers University–Camden.

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