The NIXVM saga has got a hold in our popular culture, as we know so well here in the Frank Report. Painters and illustrators, for one, seem to find in it a deep cauldron of ideas and characters to draw from.
Marie White is one of these artists that got caught up in the web of tales regarding the crimes of that ESP/NXIVM multilevel marketing scam – that one that mutated into what Federal prosecutors called ‘a cult-like organization’.
Ms. White utilizes a range of painting techniques to immerse herself in this universe, coming out of it with imagery that is funny and disturbing at the same time. The emotional intensity of some of the images is awe-inspiring, with its frozen moments of pain and madness.
To talk about NXIVM is, to a great extent, to cover the antics and the ideas of Keith Raniere, the self-proclaimed ‘smartest man alive’, the ‘Vanguard’ – the convicted sex offender. In White’s work it isn’t any different, and some of her many takes on his persona can be seen in the montage below.
But the cult of personality of Raniere didn’t exist in a vacuum. There was a whole curriculum of seemingly great ideas that fueled the never-ending courses, through which the unsuspecting mark was love-bombed all the way to the poor house, always in search of an elusive self-improvement.
Marie White depicted the main enablers and offenders in NXIVM. I’d start with the recently rediscovered by the media Nancy Salzman. The ‘Prefect’. The one with the half a million dollars casually hidden in shoeboxes.
While the moral verdict embedded in Ms. White’s artwork is usually expressed in the aesthetic choices she makes in depicting the characters, she is not averse to using actual text to emphasize her editorial opinion and maybe blow off some steam about issues the artist cares deeply.
This is the case of the portrait of Clare Bronfman. The ‘Legatus’. The ‘devotee’ willing to put her fortune and her judicial machine in the service of her beloved Vanguard.
The absolute tragedy of DOS. The madness of a sorority who worships a man. The delusion of ‘brave’ women seeking ultimate freedom through personal slavery. The collateral demand. Readiness checks. The strict calorie intake regulation. The fire-branding on false pretenses. All this seems implied in the disturbing image of an incarcerated Allison Mack, and on the new painting of the sad, beautiful and tenderly-depicted DOS slave.
The pseudo-medical experiments of ‘doctor’ Brandon Porter are also a target of White’s artistic lens, as she reveals us that he is himself the ‘fright experiment’. He is Jekill and Hide, he is both doctor Frankenstein and the monster.
Our editor-in-chief and publisher here in the Frank Report, Frank Parlato, Jr. is also depicted by the artist, in a much more favorable light. It does not take a clairvoyant to see that she respects his work and his person.
After taking this quick tour inside Marie White’s aesthetic mind, one cannot help but want to know more about this artist, and hope that we can get to see many other pieces of artwork with the emotional intensity that she always presents us with.