Biography-Contact: Margaret Koscielny
Margaret Koscielny's work has been recognized in Who's Who in American Art; International Who's Who; Contemporary American Sculptors: An Illustrated Bio-Bibliographical Dictionary; Dictionary of American Women Sculptors; with articles in Kalliope (interview, photographs), The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Journal, Jacksonville Magazine; St. Petersburg Times; Atlanta Constitution and Journal; essays, by Joseph Jeffers Dodge, Drawings in Light and Space ; and Elihu Edelson, Arts Assembler; and reviewed in various newspapers, including a general review by John Canady, for The New York Times, of the American Drawing Competition, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, (in which Koscielny was a participant).
Influences and Early Background
A native of Florida, Margaret Koscielny grew up in a family of classical musicians. Her mother, a violinist, was a descendent of an American Revolutionary war hero who, according to family legend, was related to William Pitt, the Elder, Prime Minister of Great Britain. Her father, a violist, was a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory, emigrating to the US in 1929, where he became a music pioneer in Florida, teaching, directing bands and orchestras, and developing music education for string ensembles in the public schools. Her sister, Anne Koscielny, a concert pianist, was also a professor of piano for over 4 decades. Her step-brother, Gordon Epperson, was a prominent cellist, writer and college professor. Her niece, Cécile Audette, is a singer and choral conductor, and her grandniece, Renée, a violinist. Both sets of grandparents were musical, as well. This has influenced Koscielny's work the most, as it has provided inspiration and a sense of layers and the element of time in the construction and architecture of her work.
Early Education and Career, 1960's
Margaret Koscielny began her art studies at Texas Woman's University with Toni La Salle, (a student of Hans Hoffman). La Salle was the first, and most important influence on Koscielny's approach to drawing and art. Ms. La Salle's paintings reflected the ideas she developed under Hoffman's instruction, and she was Koscielny's first encounter with an Abstract Expressionist painter. Koscielny then attended the University of Georgia, where she earned the degrees of Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Master of Fine Arts in Art. Printmaking and drawing were the primary interests of her graduate work while studying with Charles Morgan, (a student of Jimmy Ernst, son of Max Ernst, the Surrealist). German Expressionism, surrealism and Abstract Expressionism were important influences during this time. The painters, Howard Thomas, James Herbert, and a fellow student, Jim Sitton were important mentors. She began, independently, the exploration of a technique evolved from printmaking combined with transparent media, and created her first "three-dimensional drawing-sculpture" in 1966. During the next two decades, Plexiglas was to be her primary format for drawings engraved, lighted and formed into assemblages.
Teacher, Museum Curator, Artist, 1970's
After a brief career teaching in public and private schools as well as Jacksonville University, she became Assistant to the Director of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, (then called Ninah M. H. Cummer Gallery of Art). Margaret Koscielny was responsible for the organization and installation of exhibitions, publications, the training of Docents, and lectures on art history. During that time she also appeared regularly on television to discuss works of art in the museum's permanent collection. In December of 1973, Koscielny made a solo month-long tour of 9 major artistic capitals of Russia and the Ukraine in the former Soviet Union. This journey became the subject of nine lectures to capacity audiences at the Cummer Museum. She left the museum in 1974 to focus her activities primarily on her artwork.
The 1970's were a time of numerous commissions, private and corporate for Koscielny, and she won the first National Endowment for the Arts grant in conjunction with the Florida Arts Council in 1975. This allowed her to execute three large sculptures in plexiglas which were exhibited at the Cummer Museum in 1976. Numerous other exhibitions throughout the Southeast followed. She also founded an independent group of 10 artists, Art Celebration! in 1973, because of the lack of galleries in Jacksonville.The success of the group's exhibition over a 5 year period precipitated new galleries to be established. Koscielny finished the decade with an invitation for a One Person Show at Vanderbilt University, also winning an international competition for the new Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport in 1979-80. She was one of only 3 women out of 13 artists, chosen from 500 competitors.The resulting three-dimensional assemblage, "Whole Sight," was in four parts, each 9 x 13 feet. They were installed on four walls over a descending 40 foot escalator. In late 1979, she was invited to produce and design an original ballet, "Continuum" based on her sculpture by Jacksonville Ballet Theatre under the direction ofprima ballerina, Dulce Anaya.
New York City, 1980's-1990's
For ten years, during the 1980's Koscielny had a studio New York city. There she executed designs for the opera, The Magic Flute, for a production in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she also had a one Person Show. She also was invited to exhibit in a One Person Show at the University of Connecticut and, along with Alice Neel and the choreographer, Trish Brown, participated in Women In The Arts Week at the University. A commission from America Trans-Tech (AT&T) for two sculptures was also completed.
In 1988-89, she was commissioned to curate four exhibitions from the contemporary art collection of Dr. M. Anwar Kamal at the Cummer Museum. From 1978-1998, she was the advisor, curator, and, following the death of Dr. Kamal, executor of the Kamal Collection and Estate. During the late 90's up to 2004, Koscielny explored pottery with a fellow artist friend, Diane Farris, at a University of Florida open workshop. A difficult time, professionally and personally, Koscielny was limited in time and a place to do her art. Pottery provided an opportunity to work and still remain active, artistically, and provided the seeds for a project which has occupied her for two decades.
The 21st Century
In the first decade of the 21st century, Koscielny built a studio in Florida where she spent the next first four years executing three-dimensional drawings on various papers in several media. She completed a project (begun in 1990) of paintings, prose poems and collages, entitled, "The Elements," a study of the effects of man on the ocean environment. Mid-decade, Koscielny explored assemblage using violin parts from her father's workshop and old music manuscripts played by her parents. In 2009, Koscielny revisited work from 4 decades, making collages from old works going back to graduate school. The fresh perspective released new energy which she directed toward the execution of 21 small sculpture "maquettes" made of translucent material on which she drew with pen and ink. She ended the decade with an exhibition at the Main Public Library of Jacksonville, Florida. Still life gouaches celebrating music, art and books as well as drawings in various media centered on the theme of"A Homage to Chardin and Braque." She was also invited to exhibit drawings at the Invitational International Drawing Exhibition, "The Art of Drawing, " Florida State University Art Gallery in 2008.
Having "lost" a decade of professional continuity in the 1990's, Koscielny regained her artistic momentum during the first decade of the new century. The 50th decade of her career promises to be one of new projects combined with the completion of older, uncompleted projects. She is planning three artist's books, one on the St. Johns River; one based on "The Elements;" and one, a collection of poems and prose poems with artwork.