Détachment – the act of gracefully surrendering to the Divine movement without hesitation.
The artist is to be as a paintbrush for God who acts through him/her as Primary Artist. The self or the secondary artist is participating, again, in the first creative act. It is this spiritual relationship – the coming and going – the movement of the secondary artist via the Primary Artist that is transmitted to the viewer in light, colour and line; the work as a whole. A painting always expresses the artist’s inner life and is meant, purposefully, to draw and resonate within the observer’s soul.
The authentic artist creates art as a response to an inner calling. In answering his or her call the artist speaks outwardly to the viewers in the immediacy of their relation to the work, then through introspection and finally through dialogue with others. The artwork itself is created as a response to this inner call. The inner call of the artist is an invitation to live an unlimited freedom of potentiality in the opening of life’s becoming in and with being.
Ottawa-based artist and writer Mary Elizabeth Marshall has spent the past 20 years developing her twin passions of visual art and the written word.
Ms. Marshall began her studies in 1992 at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire where she graduated from an intensive Bachelor of Arts program and was awarded the presidential scholarship for academic success in Literature, Philosophy, and Political Science. Her study of literature bloomed into a passion for poetry. In 2004, Delirium Press published a volume of her poetry: The Emily Dickinson Poems. Two years later, she received a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Montreal’s Concordia University. While living in Montreal, she also taught at an inner city high school where she combined her passion for teaching with her love of the arts, encouraging her students to explore their own creativity through poetry.
Her interest in Catholic mysticism led her to the Dominican University College where she began theological studies in 2007. At the same time she attended studio classes at the Ottawa School of Art in drawing, color theory, and portraiture.
Ms. Marshall presented an exposition of 20 paintings with accompanying poetry in her home in November 2007. The show was later hosted by the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa. In that same year, Ms. Marshall co-wrote the musical Hope in Every Home with her brother Caleb Marshall who directed the production at The Playhouse in the Marshalls’ hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick.
The following spring Ottawa School of Art invited Ms. Marshall to contribute work to be shown in Italy as a gesture of Canadian participation in an annual Italian festival of the arts. In preparation she created a series of paintings entitled “Environment – Canadian and Italian”. These paintings were displayed at Four Cuisines Bistro and Ciccio’s Café in Ottawa’s Little Italy. Two pieces in this series were subsequently sold at an auction hosted by Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. The painting created for the festival itself was entitled “The Eternal City”.
Ms. Marshall continued to combine her love of poetry and the visual arts with her commitment to youth offering bi-monthly painting workshops at the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society for youth in care as well as three-month intensive art workshop for disadvantaged youth focused on painting, drawing, poetry, and book making.
In 2009, she hosted an exhibition of fifteen paintings at the Crichton Cultural Community Centre, an artist-friendly gallery in Ottawa’s New Edinburgh area. The exhibition focused on God-Consciousness and the audience’s contemplative participation in a work of art. Also shown at the event was “The portrait of an artist as young woman” a short biographical film about Ms. Marshall directed by Nikki Alison.
Her Master’s Thesis was formally published in 2010 by Lambert Academic Press. That same year she launched ‘Art from the Heart’ as a philanthropic endeavour to reach out to the Nicaraguan orphanages she had visited while touring with a group of high school students from St. Theresa’s Parish in Fredericton. The public was invited into her downtown studio to view a new series of paintings: ‘The Nativity.’
These new works were presented alongside Ms. Marshall’s graphic/poetic narrative of the nativity which been originally written as a play within a play for 2007’s Hope in Every Home. That same Christmas Marshall was asked to donate a painting to the Marianne McCain Foundation for the Arts.
In 2011, Ms. Marshall met Alison Kakish and Janie McCrimmon of the National Gallery of Canada. Known for helping emerging artists, Kakish and McCrimmon organized a show of more than 20 of Ms. Marshall’s work at Ottawa’s popular Atomic Rooster followed by a show at the Miele Gallery in Ottawa’s Centertown.
In the last year Marshall has turned her gaze to a highly specialized form of sacred art—Byzantine Iconography. In February of 2012, she attended an intensive week long Iconography workshop with iconographer Suzanne Massie Manchesvsky who works in acrylic and gold. She then traveled to Montreal to study with master iconographer Vladimir Midvichi of L’ Atelier Valuarda to explore the more traditional iconographic medium of egg tempera and gold.
Currently working out of her Ottawa studio she remains fascinated by colour and language, painting and the writing and continues her artistic expression in both media.