Marieke Kruger is a practising visual artist, educator and researcher living and working in Paarl, South Africa. She is also the Founder and Director of her recently established NPO Prison Art Business entitled O.I.P.A. Projects (Outsider/Insider Prison Art Projects), which focus on printmaking and drawing as therapeutic fine art mediums towards the ultimate goal of positive identity transformation and rehabilitation of prisoners with artistic talent inside as well as outside of prison confines. Kruger’s prospective PhD research, as well as her own independent art practice, are thus closely related (the one informing the other in an interactive or reciprocal process of experience and knowledge through the different fine art processes) to her art workshops and research in prisons.
Kruger was raised on their family farm called “Rainbow’s End” Wine Estate in the Banhoek Valley near Stellenbosch. Being surrounded by the beauty of nature since childhood, she developed a growing desire to study art and completed her B.A. Fine Arts Degree at the University of Stellenbosch in 1994 (Majoring in Painting). In 1996 the family moved to Johannesburg where Kruger successfully completed her M.Tech Degree studies in Visual Arts (specializing in Drawing and Printmaking) (cum laude) and also completed a 4-month student exchange programme, specializing in printmaking at the Karel de Groote Hogeschool in Antwerp, Belgium after which she returned to South Africa to complete her M.Tech studies with her first solo exhibition entitled “A Holy War” at the Civic Gallery in Johannesburg in 1998. Kruger participated in several local and international group and solo exhibitions locally and abroad and finally completed a second Masters Degree in Visual Arts, specializing in drawing under the mentorship of the well-known artist Prof. Elizabeth Gunter at the University of Stellenbosch in 2014. Kruger is currently reading and researching towards submitting her proposal towards her prospective PhD research in Visual Arts - with the intention to officially commence her studies in January 2023.
In my work, I seek to explore the transformative potential of the empathic sublime through drawing. In these drawings of former prisoners, I explore the emotive and expressive qualities of the drawing material, surface and drawing trace as symbolic and autonomous means of communication. In so doing I explore the subliminal qualities of suggestive drawing trace as a possible autonomous entity and carrier of meaning.
In my work, I argue that our experiences in life are a product of processes. The “dialogue” between myself and the prisoner/s whom I draw becomes central towards attempting to grasp the marks and tones of life beyond our everyday understanding of humanity: I am his other and he is my other.
As established in my previous research on the transformative potential of drawing, I affirm that there exists a mutually conducive potential and influence that the interplay between the spiritual and the psychological in the drawing process brings about. Concluding, as a “self-object”, a drawing attains its own ‘silent visual language’ replacing or assisting the role of the therapist, becoming pivotal in a transformative ‘interpersonal dialogue’. Jung (Miller, 2004: 4) claims that the unification of the conscious and unconscious results in “a living birth” that leads to a new level of being, a new situation” (Miller, 2004: 4).