Studio Visit: Marilynn Dean Cleveland

Studio Visit: Marilynn Dean Cleveland

Studio Visit is a Q&A with a local artist. Here, a chat with  Marilynn Dean Cleveland. The 72-year-old self-taught artist will show some of her many artworks in the exhibition "I Have Something to Say" from Thursday through Aug. 24 at the Murphy Gallery, University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., C. Meet her at the reception there from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Q: What will you be showing at the Y?

A: They took 40 pieces — paintings and some dominoes that I painted on.

Q: Are you still painting on popped popcorn kernels?

A: Yes. And rocks, plastic, nuts, tile, light-switch covers, aluminum, tin, drywall, leather, glass, wood, plastic bottle caps.

Q: What inspires you to do that?

A: It's a surface. I don't care what kind of surface — something can go on any kind of surface. I painted Michael Jackson on a bottle cap.

Q: What kind of media do you use?

A: I use acrylic, oil, color pencils, pen and ink, house paint, spray paint, pastels. This is how many pieces I've made so far — 1,727. I never throw away anything when it comes to art — even my scribbles. I keep a couple of those in my wallet.

Q: What drives you to create?

A: God inspires me. Art to me is telling stories with color, movement, action. The world is inspiration as far as movement, action, volume, composition. I do a painting from the spirit. I don't have a lot of shadows in my work because I don't feel they're necessary to get a story across. Like I said, I'm inspired by God and the things surrounding me. The experiences I've had to deal with in my life — the disappointments, achievements, failures. To me life is art. It's a cliche but I believe that. I enjoy creating and I'm always trying to find something to create.

Q: Are you still writing?

A: Not at the moment because I've had some surgeries that kept me down even though it was nothing serious. I write plays, poetry and short stories.

Q: Wasn't one of your plays done here a while back?

A: Yes, "From the Bidder's Box to the White House," at the Douglas Annex and Virginia Theatre, in 2011. "Bidder's Box..." is a full-length play done in silhouettes and through narration.

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