Marilyn Parkinson Thrall always knew she wanted to be an artist. She just didn’t realize until her first art class at Manchester Community College what type of artist she would be.
On that fateful day in 1973, she entered the studio a painter, and came out a sculptor.
“I think it was the hands on reality of the materials that drew me in,” Thrall says. “Rather than creating the illusion of three dimensions in painting, I could actually create in three dimensions. It’s just more fascinating to me than the flat surface of a painting.”
After earning degrees at MCC and the University of Wisconsin, she put together a prolific career from her studio in Canton. Thrall has served as artist-in-residence in several Connecticut school systems, won numerous awards for her work, and held frequent “Art Night” events at her studio. Notable public works of hers include the 9/11 Memorial at the Avon Public Library and the Sandy Hook Memorial Sculpture at the Connecticut Education Association headquarters in Hartford.
Her newest work will be unveiled on December 1st, when author Wally Lamb presents former Hartford Public Library Chief Librarian Louise Blalock the Caroline M. Hewins Medal at “Beyond Words” at the Hartford Marriot Downtown. The medal is named for Hewins, who served as librarian for 50 years, is currently in its final stages of production in Thrall’s studio.
Though the final design won’t be unveiled until the medal itself is presented at the event, the concept is a simple one: Caroline Hewins, depicted in relief in a quiet moment surrounded by the books and ideas she loved best.
“The inspiration came through a collaboration of ideas from library members and photographs [from the Hartford History Center],” Thrall says. “We discussed her accomplishments and commitment to the growth of libraries as a resource for the entire community, especially children.”
Thrall was honored to be chosen to create the medal, which recognizes an individual who embraces the City of Hartford and its people, who breaks the mold and provides service of a revolutionary kind, who stretches the boundaries of a social or cultural institution with a humanistic approach to public service, and who shows strong guardianship of and advocacy for the basic right of equal access to information and opportunity.
“It’s wonderful to give back your community, and know that people respond to your work,” she says. “It’s inspiring in that people want you to do it, and I want to do it as payback.”