Spotlight: archiTERRA

Artist Statement

“The map is not the territory”-Alfred Korzbyski

This quote reveals the physical motivation behind my involvement in creating sculpture. The source of my ideas comes from nature and nature also provides the materials for the pieces themselves. Willow, dog fennel, phragmites, hibiscus, pine bark, bamboo and marsh elder are examples of some of the plants I use to construct the sculptures.

I collect most of these materials myself. This collecting is done after the growing season is over, mainly in autumn, winter, and early spring. The fields and marshes of the eastern shore of Maryland provide most of these materials. The wood I am using for my most recent work was collected from the marshes in Dorchester County. In the winter, the marshes are burned to promote new growth in the spring. This wood is partially charred black by the fire and bleached from the sun. The patterns that this process creates act as a catalyst for ideas for the work.

The geography of the places where I gather materials, the light, temperature, and season all contribute in their own way toward the final form and appearance of the work. Many of the pieces were constructed outdoors. The environment is my silent collaborator. The wind, sun, rain, and snow all manifest their influences on the work. My materials are simple, and I treat the surfaces to seal them so that while the works may appear delicate or fragile, they have a strength and durability that withstands years of moving from place to place in the process of exhibiting the work.

I may start with a specific idea at times but most pieces continually evolve while I am working before arriving in their final form. It is this unknowable aspect that draws me to the process of making sculpture. With each work I create, I take a journey in a very physical sense with a destination that reveals itself step by step. This process, which begins when I am out in the landscape gathering, allows me an intimacy with the natural world which helps me feel connected to the very thing that makes my existence possible. My art is essentially about a process of transformation and an evolution of materials.


Marcia Wolfson Ray was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. In 1993 she received a Fellowship to attended the Mount Royal School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art where she received her MFA. While in graduate school, she started using organic materials such as bamboo, phragmites, dog fennel, marsh elder, and hibiscus to construct her sculptures. She earned her education credits at Morgan State University. She has taught art part-time in Baltimore City School System and adjunct classes at Towson University and Maryland Institute College of Art.

Some of the venues she has had solo shows at include University of Connecticut; Loyola College, MD; Washington Jefferson College, PA; Pennsylvania College of Technology; Lock Haven University, PA; Howard Community College, MD; Arlington Arts Center, VA; Rockville Arts Place, MD; Hillyer Art Space, DC. Other galleries she has shown in include the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Chrysler Museum (VA), University of Maryland, Maryland Art Place, Stevenson University, and the Walters Art Museum. She won a Baker’s Artist Grant in 2012 and in she was a finalist for the Baker’s Artist Award in 2017. She received a Franz & Virginia Bader Grant in 2017 for $15,000.

The inspiration for her art comes from nature, its forms, rhythms and patterns. She collects most of the materials for her art herself, from varied locations ranging from vacant city lots in Baltimore to the marshes of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.