Levine, Marilyn (1935-2005)

Marilyn Levine was a renowned Canadian-born ceramic artist who studied art and taught sculpture at the University of Regina in the 1960s and early 1970s. She is widely recognized across North America for her realistic ceramic renderings of leather objects, such as handbags, satchels, garments, and briefcases. Her sculptures can be found in all major ceramic collections across the United States and Canada. Exhibitions featuring Levine's realist works have garnered international exposure for the award-winning ceramist. Her works have appeared in galleries throughout North America, from the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and overseas from Paris to Tokyo. Levine was born on December 22, 1935, in Medicine Hat, Alberta. She moved to Edmonton in the 1950s to attend the University of Alberta, where she graduated with a master's degree in chemistry. Influenced by her parents' interest in art and design, Levine had a budding interest in painting. In 1961, she moved to Regina with her husband, Sidney. Unable to find employment in her field of chemistry, Levine enrolled in drawing, painting, art history, and pottery courses at the University of Saskatchewan's Regina Campus. She studied art as a non-credit student for several years while periodically teaching chemistry at Campion College. In spite of her strong background in science, Levine continued to drift toward a career in art. In 1964, she resigned from teaching chemistry altogether and enrolled in the School of Art at the Regina Campus. Levine opened her first solo show in 1966 at a small craft shop in Regina; through the next five years she held many more solo shows in Saskatchewan and across Canada, while continuing to teach ceramics classes in Regina. In 1969 she moved to the United States to enter the Graduate Sculpture Program at the University of California (Berkeley). In her second year at Berkeley, she became intrigued with inanimate objects - particularly leather goods - as records of human experience and activity. Levine soon developed a remarkable talent for creating highly realistic ceramic representations of leather objects, paying meticulous attention to the aging, wearing, and shaping of the leather through time and use. In 1971 Levine again returned to Regina to teach ceramics and pottery at the university, but in 1973 she accepted an offer as assistant professor of sculpture at the University of Utah and moved back to the United States, this time permanently. She later resided in Oakland, California, where she died on March 29, 2005.

Iain Stewart

Further Reading

Bismanis, M. and T. Long. 1998. Marilyn Levine: A Retrospective. Regina: MacKenzie Art Gallery.