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Better than perfect 

click to enlarge JILL THOMAS

Marilyn Kirkman's artwork rises off the page, as if growing beyond two dimensions and coming to life. Folds of silk form flower petals or mimic rock formations in a technique Kirkman calls "sculptured silk." She lays out the fabric, then saturates it in rich color.

"Each one is an experiment in seeing what I can do," she says.

The oversized flowers and mood-filled landscapes are quite different from the precise, pastel watercolors she used to paint.

"I was very particular, very perfectionist," she remembers. Kirkman specialized in pastels for years, but then began to notice that she could no longer see the contrast between pale colors. She didn't let the problem stop her she simply used brighter hues.

As more time passed, the tip of the paintbrush grew difficult to see. Only then did she realize that something was amiss. She soon learned that she had macular degeneration, an eye condition that causes blindness.

"I wanted to quit," says Kirkman. She credits fellow artists for refusing to let that happen.

Though now legally blind, Kirkman still has some peripheral vision. Over the past 10 years, she has created the tactile technique that allows her to continue pursuing her passion.

"You see with your eyes, but what you put on paper is really in the brain," she explains.

The titles of her landscapes tell the rest of the story: "Escape," "Contemplation," "Hope" and "Perseverance."

"I enjoy painting ideas," Kirkman says. "Like the notion that life can be a struggle, but you'll figure it out."

Capsule

Marilyn Kirkman's sculptured silk

Arati Artists Gallery, 2425 W. Colorado Ave.

Gallery hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Show runs through Tuesday, Oct. 31.

For more information, call 636-1901 or visit aratiartists.com.

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