Marjorie Schick, art professor at Pittsburg State University for 50 years, died last December from stroke complications, but her legacy continues to shine as boldly and loudly as her art, most recently through a memorial ceremony and art display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Guests at the service Sunday, June 3 celebrated Schick’s memory with a 20-minute film about her life, speeches from attendees, and a champagne toast before browsing the Unexpected Encounters exhibit that includes some of Schick’s jewelry alongside the works of other prolific artists.
“The celebration Sunday was a wonderful testament to the life and influence of Marjorie Schick,” said Lynette Olson, provost and vice president for academic affairs at PSU. “Certainly her contributions to the art world are truly amazing. Her work is admired, valued, and recognized around the world.”
Olson attended the event Sunday afternoon as a former colleague of Schick’s and said that the impact Schick had on students and the university was as impressive as her impact in the world of art.
“What struck me most Sunday was the deep and lasting influence (Schick) has had for decades on her students as well as all of those gathered at the celebration,” Olson said. “She affirmed and encouraged all of us who’s lives intersected with her own. These influences as well as her art represent a lasting legacy. I feel honored to have known Marjorie and so appreciate how she mentored … decades of students during her years at Pittsburg State.”
Janet Lewis, PSU art instructor, also attended Sunday’s celebratory service. Lewis met Schick in 1991 as one of Schick’s art students and later became her colleague at Pitt State. She said that in addition to Schick’s eccentric and bold art, it was her character and personality that set her apart.
“… When I transferred to Pitt State she was already quite a big name, but it was interesting to me that she didn’t talk about that in class,” Lewis said. “… It was always interesting to me that she had this sort of celebrity outside of Pittsburg, because here she was just Marjorie Schick. She would be the guest of honor at events she would go to, and Pittsburg didn’t really know, she was just hiding out and making more work.”
Schick’s modesty about her accomplishments was a trait many people noticed and admired, including Keegan Adams Jones, another former student of hers who is now a jewelry artist based in southwest Missouri.
“… She was an amazing woman, I am honored to have known her and studied under her,” Jones said. “… She took true delight in the creativity of others, whether it was a fellow artist from halfway around the world or one of her students in a level one craft or jewelry class. She was kind, warm, and humble. The majority of her students had no idea what incredible company they were in with her, partially because she never let on what a significant international artist she was.”
Internationally, Schick’s jewelry, or “sculpture for the body,” as Lewis described, is well-known. Her colorful and revolutionary works are displayed in galleries in Amsterdam, Italy, Russia, France, and several locations in the United States, to name a few.
While Schick rarely boasted of her own accomplishments or fame during her lifetime, those who knew her continue to share her story and artistic spirit with the world. The ceremony at Nelson-Atkins Sunday afternoon was one way to pass on her legacy through the art exhibit and film.
“The memorial at Nelson-Atkins was perfect,” Jones said. “It was very well attended, yet intimate. They showed a portion of a documentary that is being made about Mrs. Schick by her cousin Bill, a very talented videographer from Chicago. … I am grateful that I was able to attend.”
Three of Schick’s pieces are on display at the Nelson-Atkins’ Unexpected Encounters exhibit: “Spiraling Over the Line,” 2008, “Blue Eyes,” 1969, and “Hair Comb,” 1975. The exhibit is available from June 2 to Aug. 12; admission to the exhibit is free.