Marilyn Green, a visual artist residing on Long Island, captures the essence of her subject and allows you to feel her sense of life. Others must feel the same, as her works are in private and corporate collections in the U.S., Canada, Scotland, England, Spain, France and Croatia. Green’s work reflects her immense talent and relationship to humankind.
Green has taught art, art history and writing in numerous universities and colleges, lectured and has degrees in painting and music. She was also a President’s Scholar and Ford Foundation Fellow.
Many of her figures exhibit a resemblance to Cirque du Soleil, even though she started this style ten years prior to their forming. However, Green says, “When I first saw them perform in the mid-1980s in Montreal, I was overjoyed. I felt I was part of a much larger artistic community.”
I’ve personally known Marilyn Green as an established and well-respected writer. When she was interviewed for her art at a showing a few years ago, I discovered the artist within.
MDH: What medium(s) do you work in? How did you decide to work in that space?
MG: I work in a number of media, but mostly either oil on canvas or oil on shaped plywood. The oil on canvas was a no-brainer. My father, also a painter, gave me a canvas and set of oils when I was four. However, the shaped plywood figures were something that developed when I was creating a large environment under a two-year grant. They were light enough to hang, and a step closer to reality than canvas. Later, I found there was a whole tradition of painting on shaped wood, but I thought I had discovered it at the time.
MDH: Is there a specific artist, person or place that inspires you or your work?
MG: So many – William Blake, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Gauguin, the alchemy painters… in terms of places, Scotland and the Himalayas.
MDH: Do you have a favorite piece that you have created? Tell us about it.
MG: That’s a tough one – it varies from day to day – but I imagine the best answer is the piece called Pushme Pullthem. I love animals and the relationship between humans and animals appears in most of my work. This one is Dr. Doolittle revisited in a way, and it was one of a group that was destroyed in a fire. I love it enough to have repainted it – differently, but the same concept. Another interesting aspect: I painted the man from imagination and he turned up later as a friend and fellow artist…hard to explain why I had done a recognizable portrait of someone I hadn’t met.
MDH: Is there a specific designing experience you can tell us about? One that stands out to you from either transforming you as an artist, or just a special project.
MG: Yes, I recently designed four doors for a dance performance that brought together dancers from all over North America. The four doors opened to Love, Fear, Death and Birth, and going in deep enough to approach these four archetypes was very difficult stuff…and very rewarding as an artist and a person.
MDH: If you could travel anywhere in the world to see a famous piece of art, where and what would it be? Why this piece of art?
MG: I would run around Gaudi’s park in Barcelona and move into one of his apartments, even for a day. His sensitivity to the world (environment), his organic creations and sense of play strike me as very close to perfection.
MDH: What’s your creative truth? These are words/pieces of advice that you would encourage the next artist with…words that you live by for creating.
MG: For me, the reason to create art and the reason for the result is the connection with the Divine – the ecstatic flow of image and feeling that makes me the instrument and co-creator of the piece. Nothing like it, whether you get it from music, painting, acting, dance, writing.
MDH: Tell us about your work in progress.
MG: I was recently artist-in-residence on a cruise ship and rediscovered my interest in masks. I’m making a lot of elaborately painted and gilded animal masks.
MDH: Were you always interested in art? In a few sentences, tell us about how you started.
MG: Yes. My father and grandfather were artists, and I grew up with a brush in my hand and books of art images all over the house.
MDH: What are your passions?
MG: I love to be a part of something bigger than myself.
MDH: What is one of the hardest challenges you face as an artist?
MG: If you are not selling enough to make a predictable living, you don’t have the time to create the thousand ideas that come as gifts, and the majority of them die uncreated.
MDH: What is one of the most rewarding elements you take away from doing what you do?
MDH: What is one quality you feel is key in succeeding at your craft in today’s creative scene?
MG: Persistence. Without it, you will never succeed. Get rid of the sense of entitlement that says the world should be at your feet because you are good.
MDH: If you could be another artist (dead or alive) for a day, who would it be? Why?
MG: William Blake, although I would take more baths. He was deeply connected with the spiritual world.
MDH: What advice can you share with other artists about what you’ve learned from your journey?
MG: Art is a terribly hard way to make a living at this time; it was much easier 30 years ago. You have to have another reason.
MDH: For someone who is new to discovering art, what would you recommend on how to explore the possibilities of what is out there?
MG: Work and look, work and look, and don’t be afraid to try anything. Hear what others say about your work, but don’t let it impress you too much.
Thank you Marilyn for sharing so much. Your love the the arts, shows in all of your artwork.
Be sure to visit Marilyn’s website www.marilyngreenart.com to learn more of her background, paintings and descriptions of same.