Marnie Hillsley is originally from Minnesota; She arrived in New York by way of Montana State University and Virginia Commonwealth University where she received her M.F.A. in Sculpture in 1983.
Hillsley's approach to artmaking begins by taking walks for inspiration and studying the forms of trees. In a complex and layered process she begins by photographing trees, and uses the silhouetted forms of branches as her reference material. From these black and white tree photographs, she creates drawings, which are then traced onto plywood. The next step is to cut the plywood forms, paint them in contrasting colors and compose them into multi-layered final wall objects, which are then hung in grid formation. The resulting work exists somewhere between painting and sculpture and the visual effect is striking and optically engaging. Hillsley's repetitive and cumulative process of layering creates an overall pattern, though the tree reference is always present enough to give the work added meaning and emotional resonance, never totally dissolving into abstraction.
Ms. Hillsley's use of positive and negative space talks about the relationship of painting and sculpture and the ambiguous spaces that exist in-between. Hillsley creates sculptural objects that resonate as paintings, where color is used in a sophisticated way to create visual pleasure.
The artist is currently exhibiting new digital print works that have been made by using original material, sketches and watercolors that have been scanned and digitally manipulated, once again adding new laters and creating works with new meanings.