I wanted to continue my reveries about Miriam Beerman. She recently told me over lunch one day that her works are inspired by “illness and depression, anxiety and political victimization”. Yet she firmly and quietly says that she has the soul of a poet. Miriam is the opposite of her work—she is quiet and reserved while her paintings dominate. She paints until late at night. I love Miriam’s big questions about life and terror. I find her to be both frail and courageous. I find her to be critical about others, artist or not, yet I have been very close with her in spite of the sharpness of her opinions about people as well as other forms of art unlike her expressionism. Her love of color and surface speaks of beauty, intangible and fleeting yet also very physical. Beauty as powerful as her subject of horrific death. She is surrounded by her large canvases, propped against walls, covering the fireplace mantel of the living room, jamming the entrance to her kitchen. Her imagery of suffering is incongruous to her idyllic and quiet surroundings. Her peaceful suburban home allows her to concentrate on history of an horrific nature. She has few external tensions in Upper Montclair. Her green house is on a tree lined street with big homes–from the early part of the last century. Bushes with swarming gnats surround the front porch much of the spring. Her spacious kitchen is from the 1970s with avocado green cupboards that remind me of my bedroom in high school. Her home is well worn with stains of oil paint throughout, leading you up the two flights to her painting studio. Yet she paints on large canvases in her dining room and a bed room upstairs is reserved for her collages and installations.
Miriam’s portrayed victims are also Miriam herself. Yet I have never been able to see the comic in anguish or the mythological in Miriam’s imagery. I do see the demonic of our wars and the existential grotesque, rooted in the tragedy of human frailty. She has coalesced moral history painting with the sensuous and hedonistic school of the abstract expressionists. Yet the soul of Miriam’s work stems from the historically inspired content as well as the form. Her works transmit a moral message in addition to the meaning of her chosen aesthetics. A socially engaged and political consciousness is present.