chaw logo
chaw seal
chaw logo

November's Mind of the Artist: Marilyn Christiano

November 1, 2018

This month, we welcome the words and works of Marilyn Christiano. Her love for photography started as a hobby but quickly grew into a passion that has evolved over 20 years. Marilyn inspires as she "creates photogrpahs that will draw the viewer back again and again" and describes how her own view has expanded as she now takes photos that "lift my spirits." Welcome Marilyn and thank you for sharing yourself and your art. 

My husband and I were newspaper reporters in Rochester, New York, known for being the home of Kodak.  When we moved to Washington in 1965 for what was to be a year or two, he decided (with my strong encouragement) to buy a SLR and take a black and white photography class at the Smithsonian.  After a few classes, he became very proficient at it and was spending weekends in the darkroom.  Then one day on a trip to Europe with our 3 children, he said “I think you need a hobby and photography is a great one.”  What he meant, I’m sure, was “Please take your own photos and stop asking me to take them for you.”   So I took a couple of courses at Smithsonian and Glen Echo and was hooked.  I soon discovered the thrill of watching a photo I had taken appear in the developing fluid, especially if it looked as I hoped it would. 

Windowpane Art by Jack Frost

In 2001, a Maine Photo Workshop in Cuba was an eye-opener for me.  Spending eight days taking photos, reviewing the results, discussing the work of others helped me see things that I would have missed before.  I became obsessed with capturing the fog of early morning as the fishermen went out, and the changing light at dusk as they returned with their catch.  I spent hours in the early morning walking along the Malecon photographing the changing scene.  I was enthralled with faces and places that just shouted, Havana.  The compliments I got on several of my photos at the final exhibit gave me a great sense of accomplishment.  After I returned, I took more courses and in 2003 joined the Capitol Hill Art League where I have continued to learn from fellow members and from talks by the jurors.  I also learned a lot from three photo workshops with Arts Workshops in Guatemala – each one lead by a different professional photographer with a different view of what can be done with photography.             


Find the Faces, Lost River Valley, WV   

Dawn #1 Lake Atitian, Guatemala

By 2012 I felt this way:  “A successful photo, to me, evokes a sense of place, makes a connection with people, records a passing moment or changing place, or produces an image that elicits a “what is this” response.  I try to create photographs that will draw the viewer back again and again.  I focus on capturing light and shadow, patterns and shapes, mist and fog, expressions and movements that exist only for a fleeting moment, but live forever in a photograph.  I feel fortunate to be able to continue my career as a reporter by recording the world as it is, not what I would like it to be.”

Young Flower Petal Artist, Antigua, Guatemala

Now, after almost 20 years of taking photographs, I have expanded my view.  In the past few years I have been searching for what is in the world around me that can lift my spirits.  I’ve found such sights as the luscious colors and patterns inside a flower, a child intent on creating something beautiful, or a face hidden on a rock in a stream make me smile and forget for a time what I cannot change.  That warm feeling returns whenever I look at the photograph.  And I am really enjoying the hunt.  

Gone and Forgotten, Upper GA Ave, DC