"Ligature" A Photography Exhibition by Marilyn Szabo, Guest Curated by Nicole Royse


November 2017

The Walter Art Gallery hosted the solo exhibition of photographer Marilyn Szabo entitled "Ligature." The show was guest curated by Nicole Royse of Royse Contemporary. The installation showcased 10 large-scale images printed on vinyl, highlighting the technically exquisite and surrealist imagery created by Szabo. A "ligature" is defined as a connection (from the Latin word "ligari"), and it is made from two or more things which appear to be connected, resulting in a single symbol. Szabo conveyed this idea of "ligature" through the repetition of the same face throughout all of her images. When asked about significance of "the face" Szabo said, "The face, which reoccurs in all the prints, represents both a male and a female; the face is neither one," explaining that when examining the work "one should accept its ambiguity, which in a sense is the basic point." The sequence of images are like notes that become a single musical phrase, which is an additional definition of "Ligature."


The photographs, although surreal, are figurative. Mysterious and lyrical, the images have a visual extravagance, creating their own strange glamour. Szabo's new installation immersed the viewer within her evocative imagery, eliminating the focus on the object-photograph relationship. The inspiration behind the installation was Szabo's desire to venture away from "framed under glass" and use different materials and mediums.  When asked about the importance of this powerful exhibition and why she is taking her work in this new and exciting direction Szabo said, "I have been visualizing this work for several years, and I want to have this be the start of a new progression in my work with the ability to be able to hang these anywhere, not just inside."

Szabo received her Bachelors of Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in History. Wanting something "less academic" she began taking photography courses. Since then she has exhibited both nationally and internationally, garnering numerous awards and grants including the National Photography Award by Alligator Juniper in 2010. She has received a Phoenix Arts Commission Artist Project Award for portraits of the builders of Terminal Four, Sky Harbor Airport, a Phoenix Art Museum Artist material Grant, and from Phoenix Arts Commission an Artist Project Award for portraits of iconic Chicano artists.