“.. It was a world so charged, so brimming with possibility that you could close your eyes and see the space through your whole body, with all your senses. It was a child’s world and only children can truly live there. I have explored this world throughout my life and work.”
Marlene Rye suggests, “Return to a time when nature was more than a backdrop that you walked through or drove by, a time in your childhood where all the fairy tales had not been outgrown or explained away. Imagination ran free, unacquainted with the adult world of ‘facts’. Here was a world not yet fully defined, not yet labeled and categorized. Remember finding that magical tree where anything and everything was possible, that secret space where trees became circus performers, magicians, dancers, and all things fantastical. It was a world so charged, so brimming with possibility that you could close your eyes and see the space through your whole body, with all your senses. It was a child’s world and only children can truly live there. I have explored this world throughout my life and work.”
The artist’s process, begun in childhood, was enhanced through formal education. She received her Arts Baccalaureate, Studio Art from Smith College, Master of Arts from Western Carolina University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. To this day, Rye gleefully laughs when she recounts the challenges she had trying to conform to the then academic preoccupation with conceptual and abstract art as a dominant focus for creating art. Marlene tried and tried to do what was expected, and it never felt right and her work lost its soul. Her tenure at Penn was highly influenced by her collaboration with colleagues and lessons learned from visiting artists. One day, her advisor, John Moore, said: “Your subject is romantic! Get over it! Swim in it!” For Rye, this was a major “Aha” moment. At her final faculty evaluation from Penn, the advisors told Rye: “You definitely found your voice.” And indeed she has!