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Marla McLean

Marla McLean

Artist Work

Syncretism - Blue Bottle Saints
Acrylic paint on blue glass bottles on mirror
1x3x3 feet
Malala Youfsazi We will not be silent
Acrylic on upcycled wood tray, and recycled child toy
Prayer Wheels to End Racism and Misery
Acrylic paint on tin oatmeal cans installed on mosaic on wood
Who was I today What did I miss
Acrylic spray paint on butcher paper
Soul Series, one
Acrylic on salvaged wood
Soul Series, two
Acrylic on salvaged wood

Artist Information

Montgomery County
Artistic Category

Visual Arts

MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)

Artist Statement

Both the joy and tragedy of current times are cause for reflection, creation, and response. Marla's art is often created in response to injustice both nationally and internationally. There is a tension within beauty. Marla's current work seeks to provoke thought about the power of love in the face of racism, trauma and oppression.

Artist Bio

Marla McLean loves to make art and create objects.  Drawing inspiration from both visionary artists -who create though obsession and need- and ancient art born of ritual and clture, Marla's work speaks to the overarching themes of Syncretism and Social Justice.

Marla McLean's art encompasses painting, assemblage, and mixed media.  In each of her pieces, the processes and materials are married to the conceptalization.  She tackles imagery through metaphor and material.  She works in multiples to expand and create iterations of an idea.

Marla has her own ritual of spending each Sunday at her studio - Passageway Artist Studios ( in Hyattesville, Maryland, which is located in a strip mall above a lively church congregation.  Marla is never alone on this "holy day."  The thumping bass, soulful gospel music, and passionate praise comes though the ventilation system.  While many might find this a distraction, Marla uses this soundscape as a soundtrack that often shapes her work both consciously, and unconsciously, in surprising ways.

Marla works inearly childhood education as an Atelierista, or studio teacher, in a Reggio Emilia-Inspired DC public school.  These daily encounters with art materials, expression, wonder, and children further expand her notions of the artistic process and creativity.

Marla continues to stay in conversation with contemporary art, art education, and research.  She is former adjunct faculty at Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC, and current faculty in the low-residency Graduate program at Vermotn College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.  She also mentors students, graduates and others in art-making and teaching.

Marla recieved a Graduate Degree in Studio Art from NYU in Venice, Italy; an Undergraduate Degree in Social Art and Education from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont; an Associate Degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in Photography and Multimedia; completion of study at the New Sewell Music Conservatory in Jazz in Washington, DC; and most eclectic, Certificate in large puppet making, stilt walking, and community building from Parade School, NaNa Projects in Baltimore, MD.