Marja Vallila

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Marja Vallila
Artist Marja Vallila
Born(1950-10-20)October 20, 1950
DiedDecember 23, 2018(2018-12-23) (aged 68)

Marja Vallila (October 20, 1950 – December 23, 2018)[1] was an American artist, painter, ceramicist and sculptor.[2][3][4]


Marja Vallila was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia[5] to a Finnish father, diplomat Olli Vallila, and a mother of Czech descent, Rúzena (Rose) Stepánka.[1][6] She later moved to Geneva (Switzerland), then Finland, and finally settled in Washington DC where she learned a fourth language and attended Western High school, renamed (1974) Duke Ellington School of the Arts in the Georgetown neighborhood. She pursued her education at Cornell University (master of fine arts),[5][7][8] (Fulbright grantee) and participated in exhibitions at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.[9]

She found a place in a warehouse in SoHo, Manhattan that was spacious enough to accommodate both a studio and living space. She then met sculptor James W. Buchman,[10][11] whom she married,[5] and started teaching as a professor in the art department at SUNY, University at Albany.[12][13][14]

In 1992, she spent a year of residency in France, Centre culturel de la Villedieu.[15]

Her early researches often led to large outdoors architectonic sculptures made of steel, sometimes with the addition of granite, cement or wood.[16] She then went through a period of small-scale metal sculptures, already incorporating objects of daily life in her carving and casting processes, paradoxically resulting in a precious like object.[17] It is only after a visit to Deruta, Italy that she started exploring again, in a unique way, combining trivial objects, the many possibilities of slip-cast ceramics, a medium often used in decorative arts but seldom attached to High Art. Art critics spoke about these overlapping, textured, dynamic, three dimensional collages that offer "final forms [...] almost amphibian-looking biomorphic creations that "verge on the vessel yet avoid a central, open void" : (John Perreault). Polychromatic with layered transparencies, "the exuberant yet intricate looping shapes merge back again into an indescribable whole" : (Milan Hlaveš).[18][19][20]

As her health deteriorated, she moved to Memphis, Tennessee where, though locked in silence, she continued to work on paintings and ceramics.[21][22]

Marja Vallila deeded her parents' estate (spared during postwar and Soviet times thanks to the presence of a Finnish flag in the window and diplomatic plaque on the building) in Červený Újezd, near Prague to be used by the community as a special education center.[23]

Major shows[edit]

  • Zabriskie Gallery (1977), solo.
  • Newark Museum (1979), solo, (1991), "Book Series", sculpture.
  • Springfield Museum (1979), solo.
  • Seoul Arts Center (2001), solo.
  • U Prestenu Gallery (2001), solo.
  • Nancy Margolis Gallery (2000), solo.
  • Chodovska Tvrz, Czech Republic, (2003) solo.

Her work was included in the show "Study in Materials" at Storm King Art Center in 1978 along with Nevelson, Smith, Lassaw, Calder, Hesse and Saul Baizerman as well as in the show "The Box: From Duchamp to Horn" in 1994 at Ubu Gallery.[24] Her digital films, about the elements in her sculptures and their associations, have been screened at Millenium (2003/2004), Two Boots Pioneer Theater (2003/2004), and Zabriskie Gallery (2002).[18][25][26]

Permanent collections[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Carbone, David (January 24, 2019). "UAlbany Dept. of Art & Art History, SUNY". The Department of Art and Art History at the University at Albany. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  2. ^ Clara National Museum of Women Artists
  3. ^ Art sculptures by painters at the Pace
  4. ^ Smithsonian Libraries
  5. ^ a b c "Marja Vallila Exhibits Metal Works". The Brattleboro Reformer. Brattleboro, VT. February 14, 1979. p. 7. Retrieved January 27, 2023 – via Open access icon
  6. ^ "MARJA VALLILA". Binder Projects. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  7. ^ "Exhibition in Putney". Bennington Banner. Bennington, VT. September 9, 1975. p. 8. Retrieved January 26, 2023 – via Open access icon
  8. ^ Cornell Then, Sculpture Now (1978)
  9. ^ Google books Handbook of the Collections Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
  11. ^ Google books Arts Magazine, Volume 59, Issue 7-8 , 1985
  12. ^ International Sculpture Center
  13. ^ "Marja Vallila - Installation &#124 Essay by Dan Cameron, Senior Curator at The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City; Museum". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  14. ^ David Stelle biography
  15. ^ (in French) Data.Bnf [2]
  16. ^ Collections Smithsonian institution Gateway (sculpture)
  17. ^ Faculty, Exhibition Essay by Dan Cameron, Senior Curator at The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City
  18. ^ a b "Zabriskie Gallery | Marja Vallila". Archived from the original on 2015-09-27. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  19. ^ NKC-National Library of the Czech Republic
  20. ^ Google books
  21. ^ "Goober (Artificial Flower) - Reflect N Us". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  22. ^ "WOMEN TOUCH: CERAMICS | LOVEED FINE ARTS AT A.I.R. GALLERY". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  23. ^ (in Czech) [3]
  24. ^ The box
  25. ^ "Marja Vallila on artnet". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  26. ^ "Artadoo - Artist: Marja Vallila". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  27. ^ Burnaway, The Voice of Art in the South, "Never Too Late: Marja Vallila Late Works at Tops Gallery, Memphis" by Elaine Slayton Akin / November 2, 2017
  28. ^ Downtown Public art
  29. ^ Virtual globetrotting. com Gateway
  30. ^ Permanent exhibition
  31. ^