Monday, June 04, 2018

Somerville Artist Marilyn Ranker: An Artist Who Pushes Against Boundaries

Somerville Artist Marilyn Ranker: An Artist Who Pushes Against Boundaries

By Doug Holder

Marilyn Ranker traversed the shoals of the Bloc 11 Cafe to the inner sanctum-- my usual perch in the back of the said eatery in Union Square. I was munching on a bagel—a plain one—though longing for my multigrain -- the very one the store assured me would have a second coming—as soon as it “rises.” Ranker is a thin woman, with refined features and an engaging smile. She had come to my table to talk about her life and work as an accomplished artist.

Ranker has a studio at 57 Central St., across from the Somerville Museum. And with the rapidly gentrifying city, and the hunger of developers of “luxury” condos, she is glad to have an affordable space. Many artists that I have interviewed have been worried about displacement, or have been displaced. Ranker told me, “You have to move out as far as Roxbury to find something that is affordable.

Ranker—who is originally from Pittsburgh, now lives in Cambridge. She was once part of the academy-- on tenure track at Dartmouth. When that hit the skids, she had to look elsewhere for steady work. For years she has held a steady job as a suit salesman at a high-end department store to make the daily nut and feed her art.

Ranker has been trained in sculpture, ceramics and drawing. She said she often uses her drawings on her sculpture. She works with a variety of materials, like: wood, cloth, wire, copper, etc... She often paints with gouache—a water-based pigment.

Ranker describes her work as pushing boundaries. She reflected, “ I often use skeletal systems that uphold a compressed form. There is always a tension in the elements of my work.”

One copper and wood piece titled, “ Emotional Entanglement and Mental Restraints” has copper elements that are folded—emerging from a wood structure. The copper chains weave around the wood foundation. One can clearly see the metaphor the piece evokes.

Ranker told me that she exhibits her work at the studio 314 at 450 Harrison Ave. in Boston. You should visit Ranker there— because the first Friday of each month—  her gallery and many of the commercial galleries open their doors to the public.

To view Ranker's artwork go to:

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