Furniture designer, world traveler, social critic and feminist. Wendy Maruyama has been an innovative figure in the art world for more than 40 years.
A prominent artist and educator, Maruyama brings her innovative background to the 95th Annual Spring Show, a collaborative artistic effort between Edinboro University and the Erie Art Museum that opens April 21.
“Wendy has been a hugely significant figure in studio furniture for almost four decades, with recognition not only for her artwork but also for the impact she has had as an educator,” said Karen Ernst, organizer of the Visiting Artist Committee and professor of woodworking and furniture design at Edinboro since 2004.
As an artist, Maruyama combines studio craft with humor, social commentary, sculptural forms and color – relating her work to heritage, feminism and African wildlife endangerment. She said that her modern style features furniture as the narrative form – such as cabinets as dioramas and adapted shrine and funerary forms.
“I was initially trained as a furniture maker and woodworker, but I have always had a rebellious streak,” said Maruyama, who has lived and worked in San Diego since 1989 with her husband, Bill. “I found in the 70s and 80s that woodworking was very stodgy and conservative and needed to break out with some new ways of working.”
A third-generation Japanese-American citizen, Maruyama is one of the first two women to graduate with a master’s degree in furniture from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Over the last four decades, she has held many roles, including furniture designer, artist and college professor.
But it wasn’t always easy for Maruyama, who faced pressure from her parents and the industry, which was known for its male artists.
“In addition to combatting the conservative nature of the furniture field, initially it was a challenge to be taken seriously as a woman in a male-dominated field. In some cases and situations it is still a challenge,” Maruyama said. “Just being able to thrive and make it as an artist is a huge accomplishment for me – the satisfaction of enjoying what I do for a living.”
Maruyama will serve as the juror for the Spring Show on Wednesday, April 4, prior to engaging with Edinboro University students and faculty and presenting a free public lecture at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 5, in Doucette Hall, Room 119, on Edinboro’s main campus.
“The mission of our visiting artist program is to bring high-caliber, nationally prominent figures to our campus, giving students first-hand exposure to someone who has made significant contributions to their field,” said Ernst, who became familiar with Maruyama’s work when she entered the field nearly 20 years ago. “Hearing a high-level art professional speak about their work is a tremendously valuable experience for our students and a culturally enriching opportunity for local supporters of the arts and Edinboro University.”
Maruyama has exhibited her work across the country and internationally over the last 40 years. Currently, her work can be found stateside in the Dallas Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and internationally at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Queen Victoria Museum in Australia.
Artists residing within 250 miles of the City of Erie are invited to enter works for the 95th annual Spring Show. Prizes totaling $15,000 will be awarded to participants, including a $2,500 cash prize and $12,500 in guaranteed purchases. Cash awards will be divided among Maruyama’s selections as the juror.
All original artwork – including graphics, illustrations, photography, sculptures, fibers and more – will be accepted at the Erie Art Museum beginning Sunday, March 18. Works must be delivered to the museum’s Custom House, located at 411 State Street, Erie, on the following dates:
Out-of-town artists may submit their work through prepaid shipping and must include all forms and fees. Send works to Erie Art Museum Frame Shop, 423 State St., Erie, PA 16501.
Notification of acceptance or rejection will be mailed upon completion of judging, by April 6.
Artists and Erie Art Museum members are invited to a private preview and reception for the Spring Show prior to the opening, on April 21 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The Spring Show exhibition is scheduled to close on Sunday, July 1.
For more information about the 95th Annual Spring Show or to download an entry form, visit https://erieartmuseum.org or call (814) 459-5477.
For nearly 20 years, the Art Department at Edinboro has collaborated with the Erie Art Museum to bring a leading figure in art to the region to both act as juror and spend a day on campus interacting with students.
Photo caption: Nationally renowned furniture artist Wendy Maruyama has been selected as the juror for the 95th Spring Show, a partnership between Edinboro University and the Erie Art Museum.