Columbus Arts Fest preview: Meet Emerging Artist Cera Marie

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From the June 5, 2014 edition

Walking into Cera Marie’s home studio last week, I was greeted — more appropriately, taken aback — by 10 massive, quite exquisite, wood panels enveloping the front room. And those weren’t all of it.

Marie was in the process of choosing which four-by-eight-foot wood panels — only a section of the 12-by-8-foot murals she creates — to show at this year’s Columbus Arts Festival in its Emerging Artists category. (I’d viewed these works online, but having them in my immediate proximity was, succinctly put, striking.)

When it comes to art, Marie doesn’t do small. Her work, disposition and, most importantly, ideas are grand.

“What I do most is large scale. Last year I did a challenge to do 50 large-scale murals. I ended up doing 40 [for the project], but covered the same square-footage because of commissions. All of them have some sort of new material, whether it’s collage, or cement, or pressed flowers, or typography. It was fun, in a just try-it-all-out kind of thing,” Marie said, while sitting in a chair, backed by the Wilt Chamberlin-sized works.

What Marie turns simple, plain wood boards in to is not a simple feat. In making these stunning murals — using techniques that incorporate everything from acrylic paints and illustration design to wood-burning and collaged-flower petals, just to name a few — Marie has crafted pieces that dwarf its viewer, in both scale and aesthetic.

A good example is the panel Marie hasn’t completed, but will show at the festival. After moving to Columbus three years ago from Cincinnati, Marie wanted to learn the city. And since her husband is a civil engineer who brings home street diagrams, she thought, “Why don’t I do a wood-burning map/mural of Columbus?” Ambitious is understatement.

“It takes about an hour [to finish a two-by-two-inch] square, depending on the square. German Village takes a little bit longer, to make sure everything gets in,” Marie said casually about the in-process project (akin to the semi-constructed Death Star).

While Marie hasn’t exhibited her work in Columbus … yet (a qualification for the Emerging Artist category), she’s produced a number of murals for commission, and every year completes one for a non-profit institution. Her most recent are two on display at the Columbus Speech & Hearing Center in Clintonville.

Photo by Meghan Ralston