On Exhibit at Robeson Library: Empowered Visions

On Exhibit at Robeson Library: Empowered Visions

Empowered Visions presents three generous sculptural donations to the Rutgers-Camden Collection of Art from artists Debra Sachs and Marilyn Keating

Sachs’s sculptures, located on the main floor of Robeson Library, are formal and material investigations on traditional forms such as baskets and vessels. In Tiered Basket (1992), bricks are stacked in rings which grow wider with their height, and in Achievement (1998), cylindrical rings are stacked representing new accomplishments.  Keating’s sculpture Doing Battle in the Kitchen (1986), on display in the Fine Arts Building lobby, is an important piece of local feminist art history where the artist transformed common kitchenware into a suit of armor. 


"Achievement" (1998) by Debra Sachs

Sachs creates traditional forms such as baskets and vessels, paying special attention to form and surface. In Achievement (1998), copper wire and glass balls are applied over a tall, tiered structure. This form is inspired by ritual hats of Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, which contain cylindrical rings on top. Each time a ring is added, it represents an achievement in its owners’ life. This piece has been exhibited widely, including in a 2014 exhibition at Stockton University. 


"Tiered Basket" (1992) by Debra Sachs

In Tiered Basket (1992), a unique sand-paint surface has been applied over the wooden form, reminiscent of coral or ancient structures. The bricks of the sculpture are stacked so that the sculpture grows and becomes wider. Along with its exterior view, its opening offers the viewer a glimpse into the interior of the structure. It was exhibited at the 1992 NJ Arts Annual Exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, in 1994 at Nexus Foundation for Today’s Art, Philadelphia, the Stedman Gallery at Rutgers-Camden in 1997, and Stockton University Art Gallery in 2014.


"Doing Battle in the Kitchen" (1986) by Marilyn Keating

In Doing Battle in the Kitchen (1986), Keating turned common kitchenware into a suit of armor. The figure has rotary graters as breastplates, a helmet consisting of a bucket, colander, and whisk, and holds a meat mallet on a long pole. The armor features other interesting details, such as a corset laced up in the back, long fingernails, and high heels with spurs.

Although humorous, the work also subversively questions traditional gender roles that compartmentalize women to domestic life, as many artists did during the Feminist Art Movement in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. As suits of armor are both protective and made for fighting, this figure is ready for battle against the patriarchy. This piece was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1988, and The Alternative Museum, New York City, in 1991.

About the Artists

Sachs and Keating met at Moore College of Art and Design in the 1970s, where they both received BFAs and are Distinguished Alumnae. They have been active as artists in the South Jersey/Philadelphia region for 50 years and have worked on numerous important community and public art projects in the region, solo and collaboratively. 

Seeing the Exhibit

Debra Sachs’s sculptures Achievement (1998) and Tiered Basket (1992) are on view on the main floor of Robeson Library. Marilyn Keating's Doing Battle in the Kitchen (1986) is on display in the Rutgers-Camden Fine Arts Building lobby.

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