Spotlight on artists: Marsha Hewitt


Ryan Loredo

A&E Editor


Marsha Hewitt: a name that needs no introduction to the Keene State College art department.

Former Chair of the KSC Art Department, Encaustic artist, and a person with no creative borders, she has had a massive impact in the art community, both in New England and in other parts of the world. She uses unconventional materials, such as beeswax, to develop her many pieces of art.

Receiving her Masters of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Mass. College of Fine Art in 1992, she has taught at multiple universities, including KSC.

From 1997 to 2009 she was a full professor with tenure, she was the chair of the art department from 2004 to 2006, and was the coordinator of graphic design from 2000 to 2004.

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During her early student career as an artist she was inspired by feminist artists to create works of art. “At the time I was coming of age as an artist, there were no female artists in the Janson ‘History of Art Book’ for example. There were really no artists to look up to, to aspire to. The college I went to was [the] University of Michigan and we had, I don’t know exactly, 75% of the student faculty were women and there were three female faculty members out of maybe 75 to 80 faculty members. So, I was looking to, I guess, the feminist movement to give me some inspiration ‘cause they were rocking it in the seventies!”

Her latest gallery titled “Polychrome Sculpture at A Candle in the Night” is in Brattleboro, V.T. and will be open to the public until Oct. 5.

Her gallery opened on Sept. 2, despite the flooding caused by tropical storm Irene. Due to the storm her gallery did not have the opening hoped for by Hewitt. “The opening was a little disappointing, actually, because we just had the flooding here several days before. It opened on Friday and I think the flooding was on Sunday, so a lot of other people who would’ve come out to the opening stayed home, I think, because I think they thought it was flooded. Usually there’s a lot of people who are coming around to the galleries the first Friday and that didn’t happen so much,” Hewitt said, commenting on her gallery’s opening day. Her gallery did not feature her well-known Encaustic art, but it featured her polychrome wood art. Common themes of her sculptures included astrological signs, snakes, and triangles. When asked about her sculpture’s inspirations Hewitt said, “I was working with the natural world and comparing that, or juxtaposing the technological world, but also thinking of the magical world.”

When asked about having snakes in her artwork Hewitt said, “Well, that’s a symbol of power for the feminist, or the feminine goddess, energy. So they represent sexuality but also transformation. That’s another kind of theme that I see going to my work from time past to now. I, myself, am always trying to inform myself and… become a better artist, a better person, continually grow and push against the edges. The snakes, to me, are not a negative influence but a positive influence, a life-giving transformational influence.”

Fire was also a constant theme in her polychrome structure. “Fire, at least in the magical world, is a transformational element, so that is why you see a lot of fire,” she said. The color choice for Hewitt was one derived from southwestern themes. Turquoises, blues, and violets decorated and encompassed each piece to assimilate them into a common color thread. “I have gone to New Mexico since the early eighties and it’s always been a source of inspiration for me. I love the country there; it speaks to my heart. When I go there my heart just sings, it feels so happy to be there. I like the openness of the countryside and the quality of the air,” she said.”It’s really pure. There is not a lot of humidity, so you can see forever.”

In addition she said, “For me, I feel like the landscape, because it is so open and so vast and so unaffected by human habitation, unlike the East coast where it is everywhere. I feel like that puts me in a relationship with nature in a way that we feel we should be. We should be in awe of nature.”

Her sculptures had other hidden qualities about them aside from their meaning.

Behind one sculpture of a crow and a valley Hewitt placed a cabinet with a nest filled with fake raven eggs. Behind a sculpture of two thrones there was a painting of the sun and moon. Hewitt said the thrones were used in a production of “Fools Fable,” a Cambridge, M.A. dance production.

She painted the symbols in order to represent the female and male counterparts.

According to Hewitt, “They fit together like puzzle pieces.”

After her current exhibit she plans to have another in Concord. The exhibit will include her Encaustic works of art along with a few other pieces.


Ryan Loredo can be contacted at

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