Marlene Gremillion: Artist, Teacher, Creative Dynamo

In the CALS Galleries at Library Square, our retail gallery features artwork and handicrafts by scores of Arkansas artists.

Among them, Marlene Gremillion stands out not only for her talent across many artistic media but also for her energy, warmth, and astonishing output.

Those who have visited the gallery celebrations for Second Friday Art Night may be familiar with her friendly face, as she volunteers by welcoming guests at the refreshments station. We wanted to give a look behind the scenes at Marlene Gremillion’s wide array of artwork, as well as her significant contribution to the development of local and regional arts through teaching and professional mentoring.

Curiosity drives creativity

Gremillion explains her impressive and varied body of work as stemming from her deep desire to learn.

“I’m just curious, really, and I like to see if I can do things!” she said. “I like to learn and see how it comes out. I have two main loves, though, and those are watercolor painting and polymer clay. That’s why I started a Polymer Clay Guild here in Arkansas.”

Though watercolor and polymer clay are the two media she usually teaches, she diversifies in her classes as well. “All art seems to start overlapping eventually, and it interests me to see what I can create with the things I know,” she said.

On her website is a portfolio of works in watercolor and polymer clay, but also pastels, mixed media, acrylic paintings, and jewelry. And since the pandemic shut down some of her travels to teach, she has been investigating more new media and techniques.

“Since the pandemic isolation, I’ve taken some time to learn things. I’ve been learning how to use the CRICUT machine to cut my own stencils, using my designs to make jewelry, but I’m still in the learning stages. And I’ve also been learning some computer graphics. The shutdown gave me a chance to do something different, which is fortunate but also has a different feel.”

Teaching live and in virtual interactive classes

Despite her torrent of what seems like unstoppable creativity even during quarantine, Gremillion was glad to get back to teaching a small class under safe conditions at the gallery in Hot Springs. She joked that she and her students showed obvious signs of social deprivation.

“There were about six of us there, all social distancing, talking up a storm! We couldn’t shut up!” She chuckled.

To take another angle on safety, though, Gremillion will also be teaching an interactive virtual class in polymer clay veneers, beginning June 26 and running for four Fridays. Her online presence is engaging, just like her in-person demeanor, which makes it easy for students to feel connected even in a virtual setting.

See her work now at the reopened Galleries at Library Square

Gremillion has enjoyed being a part of the Galleries at Library Square for 15 years.

“They all call me Mama. It’s practically a family by now,” she said.

She has high praise for the support and expertise of gallery curators Colin Thompson and Shannon Holmes, as well as the aesthetic appeal of the gallery itself.

“It’s a beautiful gallery, and I feel wonderful that my work is in a gallery that lovely because it elevates what I do. I also like seeing other people’s work there because it energizes me to come home and create.”

To see Marlene Gremillion’s work and that of many other Arkansas artists, you can visit our reopened Galleries with the protection of social distancing and limited visitor capacity.

How to visit the Galleries at Library Square

If you would like a tour of an open exhibition or the opportunity to shop in the retail gallery, please contact the gallery by emailing gallery@cals.org or by calling 320-5790 to set up an appointment.

There will be a maximum of ten patrons allowed in the galleries at any one time. Limited walk-ins will be taken as available, but appointments are highly recommended.

The Galleries at Library Square will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. for high-risk populations only (those 65 and older or with immunodeficiencies) and from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. for the general public.

For your safety, you will be required to wear a mask and observe social distancing while in the galleries. Masks will be issued if visitors do not have them. Visitors should go to the main entrance of the building at 401 President Clinton Avenue and contact the Gallery staff for admission by ringing the doorbell or by calling 320-5790.

 

Feature by Rosslyn Elliott, Creative Writer, Central Arkansas Library System

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