About Five Dimensional Painted Word Things

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About Five Dimensional Painted Word Things
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Sari Max–Fiss

Born 01.29.53   Brooklyn, New York

Resides in Washington, Connecticut


A fine painter, pianist, and vocalist, my MOTHER was my FIRST TEACHER…providing abundant materials with which to draw, do collage, papier mache, as well as piano and guitar for musical expression….

Her decision to enroll me at the famous (and to some, infamous) Little Red School House, in Greenwich Village, N.Y.C., at the age of six, was the single greatest catalyst for my life lived as an artist.

I was encouraged by excellent, caring teachers to trust my instincts, to be unafraid of passion, to explore and discover MY INTERESTS. I was taught to regard my elders as precious resources not symbols of authority to be feared and falsely revered.

My earliest art teacher was Walter Kendra. For woodworking, I studied with Karl Uretsky and Leo Shapiro. Then, Pearl Shecter was our art instructor at the upper school, Elisabeth Irwin . Art was intertwined with all of our other studies at the school.

Click here to view a selection of the works

At five years of age, my Mother took me to classes with her specifically run for mothers and children, at the school of the Museum of Modern Art in N.Y.C. I continued to study there for many years. On my own after multimedia classes, I chose sculpture and had Lili Gettinger as my teacher. Classes at the Studio School, The School of Visual Arts (at which I attended a course in film as a novice filmmaker  - having won a contest through Teen Magazine – I was 15!), The New School, and private study with Lillian Marzell followed. Audrey Schwalb was a big influence on my life…seeing how she lived as an artist, a woman, a mother, a lover – boldly in this world.

As an undergraduate, first at New York University (NYU – in their University Without Walls program) and then at Queens College (of the City University of New York), I studied some art history – mostly 19th and 20th Century. I received a B.A. (magna cum laude) with an interdisciplinary major (sociology, education, and the arts). I completed one year of a Master’s degree at Adelphi University (in Art Management).

As I had done since early childhood, I haunted the museums and galleries of New York (and other states in the U.S.) and in my travels to Europe, South America, Central America, Mexico, and several islands in the Caribbean.  I read about many artists on my own as well.

My music studies and love for work with children started when I myself was a child of twelve. I entertained at parties for my younger sister and her friends, at nursery schools and libraries…as well as developing my music in the club-date and cabaret world. Over the years I developed the unique performance character, Princess Pricilla, The Lady Music Clown. This became a career unto itself, as the character came to be very much in demand. The synthesis of my musical interests, skills, and talents and my artistic ones – with my experience in business – has given me a tremendously rewarding life.

Designing props, costumes, headpieces, scenery, etcetera, and executing much of it myself, i.e. hand-painting my van, The “Pricillamobile”, and my shoes, bags, and “throne”, has been exciting, fun, and a challenge.

I have made and sold many macramé and crocheted pieces, hand-painted, hand-embroidered, and beaded shirts – as much because they are great mediums to work in as much as they are a diversion from the intensity of a full-time performing career.

All of this has lead up to: Five Dimensional Painted Word Things…This artwork brings together my love for words (and reading), unique objects, color, and transformation. I hope they contribute to healing in the world even in a small way. Their execution has been part of a personal healing process for me.

The pieces begin with the DELIGHT of DISCOVERY. Trips to the junkyard, dumps, sidewalk throwaways, gifts, my own attic…open eyes AWAKENING the mind’s eye to see the potential for TRANSFORMATION. My sense of HUMOR and CURIOSITY are piqued…some object begins to look like something it clearly is not. I DELIGHT in POSSIBILITY…the PROCESS BEGINS!

Next, I DESIRE to engage in a kind of conversation with the piece. I DESIRE it. I barter or buy or lift it off the streets and live with it in front of my eyes as my mind’s eye free-associates the options for executing the work. Shape and texture ump out at me. I DECIDE!!! What it will be when reborn – so the COMMITTMENT is made HERE – what a MOMENT!!

I DESIGN it in my head (mostly)…I PLAY with CHOICES – the feeling of marrying color to color, texture to color, the idea to the exploration – comes alive –

in action! Everything in the environment around me is regarded as fair game in its potential to be included in the creation of each piece…the only question is HOW?

I DO IT~!!!

I DO IT to music,

To light,

The beating of my heart!

It is a magical, euphoric state. I get lost in it until the piece is completed. I am patient and impatient. I play out my very nature in the process. I am happy! I am powerful! I revel! I’m a tiny grain of sand! I’m not nearly good enough! I can’t stand it I FEEL SO GOOD – HOO- HA!!


LEST I TAKE IT (read: myself )  TOO SERIOUSLY…


I listen to Marcel Duchamp’s words to deflate all that (self-) importance…hierarchy in the making!


Oh YES! 

Some favorite quotes from Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp

The Documents of 20th Century Art by Pierre Cabanne

1971 Viking Press

Page 42

Cabanne: Several interpretations of the “Large Glass” have been given. What is yours?

Duchamp: I don’t have any because I made it without an idea. The idea of the ensemble was purely and simply the execution…

Page 40

Cabanne: You called “The Bride” a “delay in glass”.

Duchamp: Yes. It was the poetic aspects of the words that I liked. I wanted to give “delay” a poetic sense that I couldn’t even explain…

Titles in general interested me a lot. Words interested me, and the bringing together of words to which I added a comma and “even” as adverb.

Cabanne: What is taste for you?

Duchamp: A habit. The repetition of something already accepted.

Page 46

Duchamp: The idea of “chance” (“hazard” in French), which many people were thinking about at the time, struck me too. The intention consisted above all in forgetting the hand, since fundamentally, even your hand is chance.

It’s always the idea of “amusement” which causes me to do things…

Pages 47-48

Cabanne: What determined your choice of “readymades”? [Ducham originally called them a DISTRACTION and CANNED CHANCE]

Duchamp: That depended upon the object. In general, I had to be aware of its “look”.

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Cabanne: Andre Breton said that you were the most intelligent man of the twentieth century. To you, what is intelligence?

Duchamp: That’s exactly what I was going to ask you! The word “intelligence” is the most elastic one can invent. There is a logical or Cartesian form of intelligence, but I think Breton meant to say something else. He envisaged, from the Surrealist point of view, a freer form of the problem; for him, intelligence was in some way the penetration of what the average normal man finds incomprehensible or difficult to understand. There is something like an explosion in the meaning of certain words: they have a greater value than their meaning in the dictionary.

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