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Ohio Northern Alumna Publishes ‘Good Girls’ Book


Marilyn LysohirMarilyn Lysohir (BA ’72), like a character in a spy novel, leads a complicated life and plays many roles. She is an artist who works primarily in clay and has a national reputation. You will find her work reproduced in almost every ceramic book published in the last 15 or 20 years.

Just last month, Marilyn published her own book entitled “Good Girls,” distributed by Blurb in the United Kingdom.

The book chronicles her most recent, major installation called “Good Girls, 1968.” Completed in 2002, the work features a series of portraits of 163 girls with whom she graduated from high school in Sharon, Pennsylvania.

The 200-page book was designed by Sang-Won Cho of Sancho Design, a firm located in Lake Forest Park, Washington. He is an award-winning graphic designer and has worked with artists and many corporations.

“My art really is an extension of my history, my belief system, my value system, that I got growing up,” explained Marilyn, “from my parents, my aunts and uncles, my teachers.”

At times that extension is very personal.

Born in 1950 in Sharon, PA, Marilyn studied at Ohio Northern University (B.A. in 1972), at the Centro Internazionale Di Studi in Verona Italy (1970-71) and at Washington State University (M.F.A. in 1979). She has taught at various schools such as the Kansas City Art Institute, the Ohio State University and New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred. In 2000, she was a visiting artist in residence at Ohio Northern University’s department of art & design.

ImageThe 1960s were a period of great change in U.S. history. In particular, 1968 marked a year that many consider a pinnacle of cultural revolution and turmoil in the United States. Layered on top of all of these events—socially, politically and culturally—were the changing attitudes. In so many ways, 1968 served as a watershed year when a heavy dose of realism thrust a dagger into the heart of a fairy tale past. There was no turning back after 1968, and the collective cultural conscience of the country was never the same.

Since then, Marilyn exhibited a major installation “The Dark Side of Dazzle” across the United States starting in1991, and another “The Tattooed Ladies and the Dinosaur” beginning in 2002.

Then from 1995 to 2000, in addition to making her art, she and her husband Ross Coates published a yearly magazine called "High Ground" that was about the art and artists in the plateau region of the Pacific Northwest. Really more than just a magazine, each edition was an artist’s book with slides, audio tapes, and sometimes, actual pieces of art.

In 1997, remembering her first job in high school at Daffin’s Candy in Pennsylvania, Marilyn decided to start a small candy company called Cowgirl Chocolates. From a tiny beginning (partially conceived of as a performance piece), it has grown into an international enterprise with outlets in the US, Canada and Germany.

“My work is inspired by my family and my friends and the working class milieu in which I grew up,” said Marilyn. “When I begin a piece, I start with a personal idea—such as the death of my grandmother or my father surviving World War II, and then this idea evolves into a formal composition which usually takes me a long time to work-out.”

But the days in the studio are still most important.

“For me, as an artist,” Marilyn explained, “any piece is about communication and memory, and documenting the journey upon which all humans embark... from birth to death."

The book “Good Girls” went on sale in January and may be ordered through Blurb.

Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2009-10 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: Cover and book spread from “Girl Girls” by Marilyn Lysohir