featured artist

Sculptor, Marilyn Parkinson Thrall
of Canton, Connecticut

In the quiet of the night, and into the early hours of the morning you may often find sculptor, Marilyn Parkinson Thrall, deeply absorbed in work at her suburban Connecticut studio. "Sometimes I just get so lost in what I'm doing that I lose track of time," she says. "I come back out the next day and wonder, 'Who did this?' It doesn't seem that I could accomplish so much during the night."

Marilyn, who has been creating sculptures since 1973, actually started out as a painter. While enrolled as an art student at University of Wisconson she decided to take a stone sculpture class. She recalls, "From the moment I laid my hands on the stone, I knew that sculpting was what I wanted to do." Since then, this artist has pursued her work with a passion, putting every possible moment into creating beautiful works of art.

Like most artists, Marilyn feels she is driven to her work. "When I have to be away and can't work, I become very
lost and frustrated."

When her children were young, Marilyn would wait until they were fast asleep and then she would slip into the studio. Now that they are older and have interests of their own, she has more time to put into her creations. Actually, children have become the main subject of Marilyn's work.


"When I have to be away and can't work, I become very lost and frustrated."

"I love to watch people," she says. "Sometimes I catch myself staring or studying an individual's features and movements. I spend a lot of time at the local pool during the summer, sketching. For a while, people there must have thought of me as 'that lady who stares at everyone.' Now, most of them know who I am." She manages, with these quick sketches, to come back to her studio and, filling in from memory, create life-like pieces which portray a mood that the viewer can actually "feel."

The distinctive style that Marilyn has developed sets her work apart and gives it an extremely life-like quality. The first stage involves positioning the figure and finishing it to a semi-rough state. She then begins to "dress" the figure, actually creating pieces of clothing and applying them in separate pieces. This technique, she feels, is what gives her work its realistic appearance. The final stages involve preparing the work for firing by hollowing out larger pieces and, sometimes, cutting the work apart to fit it in her kiln. Once the firing is complete, the sculpture has to be reassembled, and the seams worked so that they disappear.

Marilyn's terra cotta and bronze pieces have been widely displayed in area galleries and exhibitions, as well as commissioned for personal collections. Her sculpture series, "Summer's Children," was featured at the Arts Exclusive Gallery's Open House Exhibition in July of this year. This marks the fourth year that her work has been featured at this annual event. She also received the 1997 Jan Riviere Sculpture Award at the Connecticut Women Artists 67th Annual Exhibit at the University of Hartford.

When she's not creating sculptures of children, Marilyn is busy teaching them her art. As Artist in Residence in East and West Hartford, Haddam, Canton, Killingworth and Plainville public schools, she has introduced many children to the joy of art and the creative process. "Art Night" at her studio offers a relaxed setting for her children and their friends to get together and experiment with sculpture, socialize, or to watch Marilyn at work.

What can we look forward to with regard to Marilyn's work? According to Philip Janes, Director of the Arts Exclusive Gallery in Simsbury, Connecticut, "Marilyn gets beyond the medium and into the person she's portraying. This gives her pieces a uniqueness that will make her a highly visible and recognized artist, and, in all probability, result in a significant demand for her work."

Words and pictures can create only a limited image of her art. To truly appreciate her wonderful skill and talent, one has to stand face to face with her work.

Through commitment, work and dedication, Marilyn Parkinson Thrall is literally carving out a place for herself in today's world of art.

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