How a Macon fiber artist makes landscapes out of scrap material

This artist uses fabric to construct landscapes

Marian Zielinski, a fiber artist, talks about her pieces in the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery and how she started to create fiber art.
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Marian Zielinski, a fiber artist, talks about her pieces in the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery and how she started to create fiber art.

Colorful fabrics are stitched together to create landscapes in the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery this month by a fiber artist who calls her work the ”studio art quilt.”

Marian Zielinski, professor emerita and former scenic and lighting designer for Mercer University, said she believes she was drawn to creating landscapes from her years in the theater designing backgrounds.

“I came to art by way of theater design,” she said. “I am really inspired by nature and mostly by textures.”

Zielinski said she started incorporating fabric into sets at the theater which spurred her love for fabric in paintings and other forms of art.

“The idea of going back into it with this line, with this fiber that is such a visceral part of our experience,” she said. “I think of fiber, and I get very passionate because it is at the core of human. It’s like our skin. It’s how we express ourselves.”

Zielinski said her husband, Frank Macke, is a professor of philosophy in communication at Mercer, and she likes to explore the ideas they talk about in her art.

“It’s just a way of being in the world that reminds me that I’m in the here and now,” she said. “It’s this tremendous focus. It’s this tremendous engagement in the world that’s very visceral and tactile and embodied.”

Macke said that although he doesn’t quite understand how she transforms their conversations into art, he has always been drawn to that part of her life.

“It’s fascinating because it is artistic work that I see in process, and she tells me that conversations and things that we experience together contribute to insights, and I’m never quite sure how,” he said. “That’s what it’s like being married to a fiber artist.”

Macke said he met Zielinski at Mercer, and they are going on 25 years of marriage.

He said that Zielinski calls the work that she does the “studio art quilt,” meaning it is a quilt that is too nice to be placed on a bed.

Danika Curley, who tries to go to the gallery opening every month with her husband John, said Zielinski’s piece called “Light on the Shores of Denmark” must have taken the artist a long time to stitch the strips of fabric together.

“I think it’s beautiful. I love all of the colors and the motion,” she said. “It gives it a lot of life.”

The Macon Arts Alliance Gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lindsay “Doc” Holliday, a dentist in Macon, said he was fascinated by the layers of cloth that look like rags up close, but when he stepped back, he said he saw the beautiful landscape.

“I thought the technique was strikingly original,” he said. “It’s just amazing to think that somebody could think of how to layer them to make it look like an actual seashore scene. I was very impressed.”

Jenna Eason is a multimedia reporter at The Telegraph and creates serviceable news around food, culture and people who make a difference in the Macon community. Jenna joined The Telegraph staff after graduating from Mercer University in May 2018 with a journalism degree.