Imbued with the veracity of folk art and the expressiveness of rare spirit, Marilyn Keating's artworks have an irresistable and enchanting quality that strongly resonates with viewers of all ages. The memories, feelings, and interests that began in her childhood figure prominently in all her work, giving it a freshness, a directness, and often an impish spirit as well as a good deal of wit.
One of the interests that has followed Keating into adulthood is the relationship of people to the small creatures of the natural world. Over the past twelve years, she has transformed her tiny urban backyard to attract a variety of birds, bugs and butterflies, and their activities have become increasingly both the inspiration for and the subject of her art.
As tuned into the natural world as she is, it is no surprise that Keating is passionate about kayaking and canoeing and spends much of her free time on southern New Jersey's many waterways. Boats, oars, maps, fish and other related images find their way into many of her sculptures, often combined in playful, imaginative ways. A broken oar may inspire a doll-like figure, and a sculpture that started out as a boat may turn into an insect.
Kit flying is another passion that Keating has retained over her lifetime. She makes her kites in shapes inspired by the Chinese, the Maori, and other great kite-flying cultures. Like these kit-makers, Keating uses materials such as bamboo, paper, and dried woven plant fibers. Like them as well, many of her kites take the shape of natural flyers, such as insects and birds.
Keating is also a brilliant worker of wood, which is the medium she favors. She saws, carves, or assembles many of her sculptures from pieces of wood of various origins, to which she attaches bits of string, paper, metal shapes, old children's toys, and other materials. The result is that her sculptures often have an ephemeral or fragile quality. They are like objects found in nature that will change and evolve over time.
Keating's strong affinity with wood-working has translated into and extensive series of hand-colored woodblock prints on Asian papers. Her prints, like her sculptures, have a tactile quality that invite close inspection, which is always well rewarded by the discovery of details that might be sobering, surprising or humorous.