Marianne Williamson is an award-winning artist now living in Miami, Florida. Her work has been exhibited at Quilt National in 2011 and 2013, and is hung in many public and private venues. You can see more of Marianne’s work at https://www.movinthreads.com. Clairan Ferrono interviewed her recently.
Ferrono: When did you know that you would be an artist?
Williamson: Forever! I have always been an artist, starting with private lessons at 14. I lived in Switzerland, but went to Paris to specialize in Art History and finished high school there; then to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Geneva, Switzerland majoring in sculpture. It was a very classical education, with nude drawing, clay, stone sculpture and history of art. My father collected 1950’s art when some of the artists were starting off, and I grew up with all those artists as an influence, especially Jackson Pollock. In museums and galleries all the time, even before I went to art school, I was always surrounded by art.
There was never a time when I even thought of being anything but an artist. I just didn’t want to live in squalor and smoke and drink wine and have deep thoughts all night and talk about Sartre like other 1950’s young artists did in Europe. I wanted a family and children. I taught for a year in Tanzania, then came to the US and taught art in Connecticut. I had three children and art took second place to them until they were grown. It all came together about 15 years ago, and I haven’t looked back.
Ferrono:: Have you always worked with fabric?
Williamson: No. I was first a painter. In 1966 I was asked to go to Crayola headquarters in Pennsylvania and started painting with melted crayons ironed out between newspapers; the results were not crisp so I added acrylics, glued the results to mason boards, framed them and sold them at art fairs.
My first quilting class was in 1980, and I made classic bed quilts for years, while continuing painting and drawing with pastels. I was in galleries in Florida and had a studio for a number of years. My first awards at AQS in came 1986.
In the late 1990’s my work started to look more like my paintings. Doing raw edge applique and free motion quilting enabled me to meld my art with my quilting. In 2002 I lived in Colorado and was part of the Front Range Contemporary Quilters. I was still painting and making wall hangings and really developed the impressionistic style. I created my long stitch in 2005, and that thread painting has become characteristic of my work. I also lived in Wyoming for three years and took a work changing photography workshop. I have hundreds of photographs and am still working from them. This was the beginning of my Trees series. Trees are symbols of strength and longevity. For me, tress are a metaphor on aging.
Living in New Mexico for a couple of years lead me to develop a series on fire.
Ferrono: You certainly have lived in a wide variety of places, Marianne. How has that affected your work?
Williamson: When you move from one area, one climate, to another your work shifts. Light is different. The palette is different. For example, from Colorado and Wyoming pine trees are dark in different weathers. Pondarosa pines in New Mexico, the desert. Since moving to Florida,my work has been about foliage, fishing, water. It’s all about movement and light.