The pride a parent possesses for a child is not a rare thing, but the reverse, the pride a child has as it relates to their parents and the gifts handed down to the progeny, is far more scarce. Such is the case with the artistic passions and talents of Maralyn Menghini, who credits her father, head illustrator at McGraw Hill, for her life’s work as an artist. “My first recollections,” recalls Menghini, “are sitting next to my father at the dining table in our home, as he worked constantly, creating the most engaging and unique illustrations.” It didn’t take Menghini long to pick up her own pencils, brushes and pastels to give freedom to the inner visions kicking around her artistically inquisitive mind.
Born and raised just outside of New York City on Long Island’s East End, Menghini has made a splash in the New England region with her dimensional art pieces depicting various coastal and nautical elements. Wooden dories arranged in circular or lineal styles make up wall hangings, wreaths and mirror frames. Boat oars, simply whitewashed, and woven into circles appear uncomplicated, but Menghini’s thoughtful eye finds a more intricate relationship among the bold, white paddles. “What I’m in love with right now is the concept of dimensional,” Menghini explains. “I love creating texture and shadows, because it is in the shadows I see things. I actually see a lot of color in the white—it can become any color you want—and it’s satisfying, depending upon the surroundings and the light.”
Menghini recounts her initial inspiration for her iconic design using the oars. “We were visiting close friends in Chatham,” she says. “We sat in their driveway, and I was inspired to sketch out something that I could create from an item that is instantly associated with the beach and the coastal environment.” A photo saved on her iPhone of a simple drawing on a piece of scrap paper confirms the genesis. The rest, she says, is history.
Some newer work of Menghini’s, still in an all-white palette, involves collections of sea life—sea urchins, sea stars, corals and sand dollars, as though gathered together for some sort of spectacular, undersea wedding—all arranged in a monochromatic frame. And her most recent sculptural foray depicts jasmine vines and other delicate floral stems that Menghini individually hand crafts, weaves and winds around a simple round mirror, again whitewashed to best present the intricate beauty found in the shapes. Menghini says the singular color palette has had a major influence on her enjoyment of creating the dimensional art.
The depth of Menghini’s talents seemingly has no end. She is picking up her brushes again, and her recently cultivated explorations have taken her into the world of metal leafing, all the while pushing boundaries as she blends those talents with “verre eglomise,” the art of reverse-glass painting. The creative spark ignited at the elbow of her father so many years ago appears ready to illuminate the world with Menghini’s artistic touch for a long time to come.
Menghini’s Sculptures can be found at The Drawing Room, New Bedford; Chapman art gallery, Cotuit; margo’s, Osterville; Chatham home, Chatham; and shÖr, Provincetown