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Marla Powers
Marla Powers

Artist’s Statement

My current work focuses on mixed media, fine art mosaics combining various components that frequently defy compatibility such as glass, stone, metal, shell, wood and clay sometimes mined from architectural salvage and recycled into new and vibrant forms. I am interested in how complex entities amalgamate into simple statements of artistic integrity while other more simple entities develop into more complexities. A bricolage of excitement! I was a clay artist for ten years and what excited me about clay is the element of surprise after the fire takes over.
I agree with Native American potters with whom I have studied that the clay has a life of its own. And like life itself the clay breathes and lives both with firmness and fragility. Much of this philosophy can be applied to my mosaics. Like a playwright creates structure from his character’s dialogue, I seek the same spontaneity in forging a relationship between space, texture, and color, a mosaic fusion.

All art has come to me in the form of a natural evolution of interests. I began in the performing arts and for years danced on Broadway. I have retained the movement of dance and incorporated it in all my work to relieve what otherwise may be seen as a portentous solidification of elements. Movement in one form gives impetus to movement in another. An anthropological truth: opposites may attract, but like produces like. Energy found in the movement of lightning resounds in its thunderous counterpart. Among the Lakota it is believed that the lightning is caused by the glare of the great Thunderbird’s eye; the sound of thunder is caused by the flapping of its wings. Such a metaphor for the relationship between vision and movement!

In all my work, linearity serves only temporarily to divert motion–like the levee wall that distracts an ocean storm, but never stops it. But it is mainly the subjects of my art that are emblematic of movement. It is what I like to think of as the symbolic movement of the subject matter. A full mosaic moon is a rising moon; a red mosaic sun is a setting sun, each dependent on its shape and color to define movement. Trees do not stand in the wind, they bend in it; birds do not roost in their nest, they are flying to and from it.

My continuing work employs multiple art forms: painting, clay sculpture, collage, photography, image transfer, and encaustic painting which, to me, represent not a static statement of form and color, but a choreography of images.


B.A. in Psychology, magna cum laude, Brooklyn College, CUNY (Minor in studio art)
M.A., Ph.D. in Anthropology, Rutgers University
Special interests in Anthropology of Art, Photo Ethnography, Symbolic Anthropology, Visual Anthropology

Additional Art Education:

Workshop in collage and acrylic image transfer with Jonathan Talbot, NY
Two years, New York School of Interior Design, NYC
Oil painting, Dolce Studio of Fine Arts, Princeton, NJ
Sculpture, Kempton Hastings, Princeton, NJ
Clay Sculpture, hand-built vessels, Rex Gorleigh Studio on the Canal, Princeton
Stained glass, Stained Glass Studio, Hopewell, NJ
Workshops in Batik, print making, encaustic painting, Princeton Arts Council, Princeton,
Raku and pit- fired vessels, Connie McIndoe, Hopewell, NJ
Encaustic painting, collage and image transfer, Frances Heinrich, Princeton, NJ
American Indian Art, am proficient in various techniques of American Indian beadwork, quill work, and ribbon work. as well as traditional pottery techniques.

Exhibitions and Publications:

There Still are Buffalo and Girll's Night Out, juried group show, Zooanalia The Gallery, South Brunswick Municipal Bldg. April 10-June 26, 2012

Eye of the Storm and After the Storm. Juried group show Spaces and Places, Verde Gallery at Art Way Gallery. Feb. 5-March 18, 2012.

Eye of the Storm and Sanctuary published in Mosaic Madness. pp. 35-37. New Art Review. June 2011.

Eye of the Storm
and Out of the Woods published in Mosaic Art 6: An International Portfolio of contemporary mosaic art from 2010. 1028 Original Mosaics on 2 CD’s. Mosaic Rocks. LLC 2010.

My mosaic, Out of the Woods was selected for a special juried exhibit, Cutting Edges: Contemporary Mosaic Art at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, Lake Oswego, Oregon. June, 2009. It was the largest exhibition of fine art mosaics in North America.

Curator: “The Star Quilt: A Symbol of Lakota Identity,” and exhibition of American Indian textiles in "A Century of Vision: One Hundred Years of American Indian Art". Mason Gross Downtown Art Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ (Also built installations and produced a catalogue) Videotaped for N.J. Educational Cable Television Network.

“Born to Kiln,” Ceramic Sculpture by the New Generation, NJ Designer Craftsman Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ.

New Works by NJ Sculptors: NJ Designer Craftsman Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ.

Hopewell Pottery Group Exhibition: Distant Places Gallery, Flemington , NJ.

New Works in Mosaic Art, Mirror/Mirror, Royal Street Gallery, New Orleans, LA.

Featured Artist , Guild Gallery, Montgomery, NJ.

Featured in New Jersey Home Magazine (hand-built vessel).

Work is in private collections in CA, NM, PA, NJ, NY, LA and SD.


I began with a career in the performing arts as a dancer on Broadway. I later obtained an advanced degree in Anthropology with a particular focus on art and culture. I spent a number of years among the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota as well as various Pueblo people in New Mexico. Both at Pine Ridge and New Mexico I studied the art of the people.

I was an Associate Professor of Anthropology for a number of years while continuing to devote much of my time to artistic pursuits. I was a clay artist for ten years and owner of Forms From the Earth Art and Design Studio specializing in fine handcrafted non-functional, pottery, jewelry, and wearable art. My clay pieces are all hand-built, coiled pieces usually pit-fired and embellished with silver, brass, copper, bone, stone, wood, feathers and other life forms. Many are vessels, others three dimensional sculptural forms.

For the past six years I have been concentrating on mosaic art. For me it was a natural evolution from clay forms to mosaics. I utilized architectural salvage to create sometimes monumental garden art. All were mixed media mosaic pieces, all have an element of surprise in that they are unexpected forms in the context in which they are used...a fan window of mirror mosaic as an embellishment on a pond.

From garden art I moved on to furniture such as tables, mirrors and chests. My recent works are fine art mosaics. These continue to be mixed media pieces often combining photo images which carry the viewer into the depths of the piece. In all the various forms, garden art, furniture, back splashes, or fine art all are one-of-a-kind custom pieces.
I am a professional member of SAMA the Society of American Mosaic Artists, member of Comtemporary Mosaic Artists (CMA) and member of the Princeton, NJ Photography Club.

Select Editorial and Consultation

Art Director, LAKOTA BOOKS, Kendall Park, NJ.

Selected photographs of American Indian Dancers in: “Native American Music of the 20th Century,” by William K. Powers in American Roots Music, R.Sanatelli, G.Warren, J. Brown eds. NY. Harry Abrams, 2001.

Art Director, POWWOW TRAILS: American Indians, Past and Present, Somerset, NJ.

Art Therapist, Dance Therapist, Music Therapy Department, New Jersey Neuro-Psychiatric Institute, Skillman, NJ.

Consultant - Art Therapy, Harold House, Associated with Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Consultant - New Jersey State Departmernt of Health, Division of Narcotics and Drug Abuse Control, Mercer County Clinic, Trenton, NJ. Art Therapy.

U.S. National Park Service. Identification and assessment of artifacts and identification of Lakota people in historical photographs for museum. Scottsbluff, Nebraska.