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The Artistic Practice of Marion Mahony Griffin, Environmentalist and Architect

Marion Mahony Griffin (1871–1961), one of the first female architects to practice in the United States, created drawings, prints, and other works featuring magnificent depictions of the natural world. For fourteen years she was Frank Lloyd Wright’s chief draftsperson and senior member of his studio, before she and her husband, Walter Burley Griffin, catapulted from Chicago to Australia after winning an international competition to design the new city of Canberra. This talk will trace the development of Marion’s artistic practice, from children’s book illustrations and architectural renderings to her “Forest Portraits”—an ambitious botanical series sparked by her fascination with the indigenous trees of Australia.

About the speaker
Debora Wood is a curator and writer specializing in modern and contemporary works on paper and is the current vice-president of the Print Council of America. This presentation stems from her ongoing research on the work of Marion Mahony Griffin, an interest that began with Wood’s seminal exhibition and catalog, Marion Mahony Griffin: Drawing the Form of Nature (Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, 2005). Wood’s recent publications include “Studies in Perception I (Alpha Serendipity)” in Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982 (LACMA 2023), “What is an Original Print? The Evolution of a Definition” in the scholarly, international journal Print Quarterly (September 2022), and entries for Renaissance Invention: Stradanus’s Nova Reperta (Newberry 2020) and Matisse: Paintings, Works on Paper, Sculptures, and Textiles at the Art Institute of Chicago (2019). Educated at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, she has held positions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.

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