A Family of Artists
There are actually three artists in Mary Ann Currier’s family. Two of her daughters, Anne and Nancy, are also artists.
Anne Currier is a sculptor and professor of ceramic art at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. More examples of her work can be seen at the Alfred University School of Art and Design, Lucy Lacoste Gallery (Concord, MA), and Galerie b15 (Munich, Germany) web sites.
Nancy Currier is a painter and teaches art at Foster Academy in Louisville. She has created lesson plans for KET’s Ellis Wilson—So Much To Paint.
A Family of Students
Mary Ann Currier’s students at the Louisville School of Art have gone on to work in a wide variety of art professions. At Currier’s 2005 retrospective exhibit at the Speed Art Museum, she was photographed with a group of students who are all working artists. The photo ran in the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) along with an article about the exhibit.
Denise Mucci Furnish is a fiber artist who creates painted quilts and textile collages from old quilts worn beyond repair, quilt fragments, unused quilt squares, discarded embroidered household linens, and other domestic textile objects. She lives and works in Louisville at the Garner-Furnish Studio, 642 East Market Street. Her web site shows examples of her work.
Michael Zoeller’s ceramic art combines wheel-thrown utilitarian pieces and sculptural work. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and he has taught in venues from the University of Kansas to adult education centers.
His works were included in the 2007 “Handbuilt: Kentucky Clay Artisans” exhibit at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, and he is featured in the book Pottery Tour of Kentucky. Zoeller lives in New Haven, Kentucky.
Dan Selter is an art professor at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. He has exhibited his ceramic artwork since the late 1970s and is represented in many collections in Kentucky, including those of Brown-Forman Corp. and Kentucky Fried Chicken. His hand-built sculptural stoneware vessels are featured in the book Pottery Tour of Kentucky by Joe Molinaro.
Ed Hamilton is nationally known for his public sculptures, monuments to the struggles and achievements of black Americans and Africans. His monuments to individual African Americans include the Booker T. Washington Memorial Garden at Hampton University in Virginia and the Joe Louis Memorial in Detroit. Hamilton also has created sculptures commemorating the achievements of groups of Africans or African Americans. His Amistad Memorial, recalling the 1839 revolt of kidnapped Africans aboard the slave ship Amistad, was unveiled in New Haven, Connecticut in 1992. In Washington, D.C., Hamilton’s The Spirit of Freedom commemorates black Americans who fought in the Civil War. Of his former teacher Mary Ann Currier, he says, “She was one of the best teachers—kind and considerate.”
Hamilton’s web site includes examples of his works along with information about how monuments are created.
Ed Rollins lives in New York City. He is a co-owner of Pintura Studio, which designs and produces hand-printed fabrics, wallpapers, and other decorative finishes. Rollins says he has applied many lessons learned from Mary Ann Currier in his work as an artist: “Mary Ann was an incredible teacher who was always prodding you to stretch your abilities and stretch in your thinking. She has always had an appreciation and enthusiasm for all styles of painting and forms of creation, whatever form they may take.”
Martin Rollins works in oil pastels. Many of his works depict urban and suburban streets and park scenes from around Louisville. He also teaches art at the city’s Shelby Elementary and is a former associate curator of education at the Speed Art Museum.
“To understand how Mary Ann Currier influenced students, you have to first understand the gifts that she brings to her teaching,” Rollins says. “Mary Ann has a deep intellectual curiosity about art and artists in the wider world, as well as what was happening in the studios there at the Louisville School of Art. In her classes, she always kept a discussion going about the content and the intent of artwork being produced currently and advanced challenges to us regarding the role of the artist in the contemporary world. Her intent was to provoke us into our own deeper questions about art and our commitment to our own ideas about art. She was devoted to developing the uniqueness of each art student. The caliber of artistic standards that Mary Ann Currier holds for herself were those that she encouraged in her students. This was true regardless of your artistic path; if she saw that you were a serious student and you sought out her guidance, she would work with you in regards to the development of your artwork.”
See more examples of Rollins’ work at the B Deemer Gallery web site.
Suzanne Adams is a clay sculptor who has held solo shows in the Gallery Hertz in Louisville and displayed her art at the Louisville Water Tower as an honorary member of the Louisville Visual Arts Association. She has taught art at the high school and university levels. Adams is also a Kentucky Peer Advisory Network Consultant. This Kentucky Arts Council program provides professional assistance to arts organizations, community groups, schools, and eligible individual artists. Adams recalls Mary Ann Currier as a teacher who demanded a lot from her students and as a source of inspiration. “Mary Ann’s enthusiasm spread to all her students and encouraged me to stay focused on my work day-by-day,” she says.
Dave Caudill, a sculptor who works in welded stainless steel, lives and works in Louisville. He has created artworks both large and small for numerous public, corporate, and private collections—from Louisiana’s Rip Van Winkle Gardens to the Louisville Zoo. He is one of a few sculptors in the world to have created an environmental undersea sculpture, which is now displayed in Nassau, Bahamas. “I can directly attribute my sense of focus on gesture to Mary Ann Currier,” he says. As a student, Caudill enjoyed Currier’s enthusiasm and curiosity. As a person, he embraced her sense of learning and discovery. He says Currier would ask her students questions that would sometimes elicit a hole in their logic. Then she would inspire the students to improve.
See a variety of Caudill’s works at his web site.
Martha Nelson Thomas
After a long career of handcrafting dolls, Martha Nelson Thomas is currently enjoying life as a painter in Louisville. Thomas attributes her love for mixing colors to Mary Ann Currier, whom she considers a friend and inspiration. As a student, Thomas appreciated Currier’s tendency to work on her own art as the students watched and learned. “I learned all the basics and the grounds for developing art from Mary Ann,” she says.
Tony Pinotti is both a visual artist and a musician. In the late 1970s, he and other Louisville musicians formed the punk band No Fun. The group eventually became Circle X and relocated to New York City, where it became part of the avant-garde no wave scene and built a reputation in the experimental rock underground. The group has toured internationally and released a variety of singles and albums, including Celestial on the Matador label.
Dixie Johnson, who lives in Louisville, spent 25 years working as a graphic artist and currently works to find homes for mentally disabled adults. She continues to create art and looks forward to someday returning to painting full time. She recalls an important lesson about color she learned from Mary Ann Currier: There is always a way to make colors harmonize. In regard to the “rule” that purple and red-orange are colors that do not work together, Currier told her that there is never a rule that you can’t break.
Textile artist Neisja Yenawine’s works range from silk scarves to 30-foot wall quilts. As an art educator, her assignments have ranged from teaching undergraduates at the Corcoran School of Art to directing a community center art program. She currently teaches kindergartners and junior kindergartners at St. Francis School in Goshen, Kentucky.
Jacque Parsley creates collages and assemblages from found objects, including organic and inorganic materials. Her work has been exhibited across the United States and in Mexico. She and Gayle Cerlan operate the Cerlan Parsley Gallery at 620 Baxter Avenue in Louisville. Parsley describes Mary Ann Currier as “a real star. One reason she’s so special is that she’s a great artist and she’s a great teacher. A lot of teachers are not-that-great artists, and a lot of artists are not-that-great teachers. But Mary Ann was good at both.”
See examples of Parsley’s work at the KentuckyArtists.com web site.
Gayle Cerlan is a ceramics artist who has exhibited her work throughout Kentucky and the region since 1981. She holds a Master of Arts degree in ceramics from the University of Louisville.
Cerlan’s work has been featured in national publications as well as the book Pottery Tour of Kentucky. Her works are primarily hand-built sculptural forms that are fired in electric kilns. Cerlan owns the Cerlan Gallery at 522 West Short Street in Lexington, KY, and she and Jacque Parsley operate the Cerlan Parsley Gallery at 620 Baxter Avenue in Louisville.
Cathy Shepherd is best known for her portraits, although she also paints landscapes. “One of the greatest things about Mary Ann Currier as a teacher was that you respected her expertise. She told you what she knew and what she thought but without making you work as she did,” Shepherd says. “The best teachers know how to guide you into doing your work, not theirs.”
Additional images of Shepherd’s work are on her web site.
Louisville native Rebecca Graves lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her company, rGraves&Co., provides decorative painting and creates murals for commercial and residential clients. She is the president of the board of Smack Mellon, a nonprofit organization that provides studio space and an exhibition program for emerging artists.