June 5, 2024 - When CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Art Department Chair Marianne McGrath was first contacted by a representative from the European Cultural Centre in Italy, she thought it was a scam.

“It’s a thing you get in the art world,” McGrath said. “The curator said she saw my work in Denmark last summer and invited to show in their biennial international art show in Venice.  She contacted me totally out of the blue. When I realized it was real, I was obviously honored, and then of course, I freaked out.”

McGrath will be showing her work at the 8th edition of the European Cultural Centre (ECC)’s biennial contemporary art exhibition, “Personal Structures,” which will run from April 10 through November 24 in 2026 in parallel to the Venice Biennale. McGrath plans to start working on the exhibition in 2025.

The road to the Venice exhibition actually began a few years ago in another European country – Denmark - where McGrath was an artist-in-residence in the summer of 2022. McGrath’s mother grew up in Denmark and the family was planning a visit in 2019, so McGrath researched and contacted Viborg ceramicist Helle Bovbjerg, who is also an art critic in Copenhagen.

Through Bovbjerg, McGrath became part of a program in which artists are invited to come use a huge paper factory as an art space.

“I do a lot of site-specific temporary installations that are super large scale,” McGrath said. “I enjoy the freedom of being able to work conceptually that teaching for a living allows me.”

McGrath took three CSUCI Art Dept alumni with her to Denmark and created a series of installations with local - predominately unfired - clay. McGrath had a solo exhibition that summer, and the curator of the European Cultural Centre show was impressed, and contacted McGrath about participating in the 2026 show.

“I know it will be large scale,” McGrath said. “I’m going to see if the factory in Denmark can ship materials to me.”

The “Personal Structures” show will be on display in the exhibition venues of Palazzo Bembo, Palazzo Mora and Marinaressa Gardens in Venice and will run concurrently with the 61st International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

More recently, McGrath was one of five CSUCI artists chosen for Museum of Ventura County’s “Innovision: Ventura County Artists to Watch” exhibition, which opens Saturday, June 8 and will run for one year. The exhibition opening, that is free and open to the public, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday evening at the museum, located at 100 E. Main Street in Ventura.

To learn more about the upcoming “Innovision” exhibition, visit https://venturamuseum.org/event/exhibition-opening-masters-and-innovision/.

To see examples of Marianne McGrath’s work, visit https://www.mariannemcgrath.com/.

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