Artist Statement


My philosophy and approach to art is pure and simple: It is essential in life; an emotionally engaging lifeline that connects external environments with internal landscapes. My approach is to keep this precious, healing lifeline open with passion, humor, color, iconic imagery and listen to guidance through meditation, yoga and my Muses.

I have a deep attraction and affection for Asian and Indian art and culture; feel a strong spiritual connection to iconic symbolism and representation in the Buddha and Hindu deities; and a thirst for knowledge and wisdom from Eastern religion and philosophy. My lighter, humorous side is reflected in my whim(sical) pieces and my appreciation of color and nature made objects in my colorfully abstract and natural elements works.

Wood is the foundation material I use in most of my work. It lends natural support, strength, and durability, physically and emotionally. I love the distressed textures it offers and affords me. Other materials I use include acrylics, texture paint, molding paste, gem stones, crystals, natural stones, resin, brass and stone deities, glass tiles, found and recycled objects, paper, newsprint and clay. Every piece is finished with a non-toxic polyurethane varnish. All pieces are personally signed, most are wired on the back and ready to hang.

About the Artist

 "You should never confuse your career with your life." - Dave Barry

Photo by Julia Nash Photography

Photo by Julia Nash Photography

I am, and always have been, a "creative independent type." Personally, I quite enjoy it. Professionally, I discovered very early in my career pursuits that being creative is a blessing and a curse when it comes to employment. I spent 16 fun, diverse, challenging, exciting and unstable years in media and advertising production and account management.  I ventured twice into quasi-corporate environs for more financial stability, only to be told either ' I was a great person in the wrong environment', or 'I belong in a creative field' and was let go each time. I took my severance and emotional wounds and became frighteningly wiser.

"There is no security in life, only opportunity." - Mark Twain

In 2000, I made an entrepreneurial decision and formed a joint venture with my right brain and left hand: create my own art business. I found the courage, determination, HUMOR, perseverance and passion to see this through and the audacity to call myself "Artist.," as i am primarily self taught. I took related jobs: Chicago Merchandise Mart in the Gift and Home Market Show for a brief time traveling and learning wholesale shows; worked retail learning merchandising in a functional art gallery and observed what sold (my work included); attended business workshops and art shows; networked and just observed A LOT. Throughout this entire process, I practiced and studied yoga, attended yoga workshops, read books and watched videos about Eastern philosophy and culture, all to keep me healthy and mentally wise.

Being realistic, I knew this was not going to be an immediate gratification venture, financially speaking. So I returned to the restaurant and hospitality industry to support this passion for flexibility, a steady paycheck and benefits. I am still there today.

Up until 2009, I honestly believed I was on my artistic way having experienced 5 years of local, national and international success with the functional art I was making - notably my Glam Girl Take Out Menu and Tea boxes, and friendship boxes. Then things started to progressively unravel with supplier issues, the economy, and stores going out of business. I desperately needed to reevaluate, get outside and beyond the box and my head. Time out yet again to reinvent. Fight or flight.

It took 4 years to fully conceive and bring to fruition the new creations and regain the same passion I once had for my earlier work. I am so excited and relieved to feel a deeper connection to my art and my Muse - one that is more authentic, spiritual and vulnerable. My hope is that my creations can and will connect with you too.

"Art is the illusion of spontaneity." - Japanese Proverb

Marilyn Grad was born in Cincinnati and resides in Chicago. A self-taught artist, she graduated for the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. degree in Communication Arts, Television and Film Production. She successfully survived her mid-life crisis, giving her the courage and wisdom to express her eclectic individuality to the fullest.