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Meet Marissa

Marissa Tawney Thaler is a visual artist living in Lansing, Mich. She holds a BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, where she studied Art Education and Illustration. From there,Marissa worked as an elementary art teacher for Waverly Community Schools, using weekends,summer, and holiday breaks to cultivate her personal work.

In 2011, she curated an Alumni Show at Gallery 1212 in Old Town, and until 2014, she was part of 4th Culture Studios who put on many area exhibitions at locations such as Scene:Metrospace and the John Bean Building. She has volunteered for Reach Studio Art, Keys to Creativity, and for the last four years participated in the Love Lansing Fundraiser to support art education in Lansing.

In the fall of 2018, Marissa left teaching to pursue a career as a freelance illustrator. Since then, her "Drawing Folded Paper" series has been featured in various locations around Michigan, including The Crafted Bean Lansing and Polka Dots Boutique, and will be shown at the upcoming Great Lakes Market and East Lansing Art Festival. She also wrote, illustrated, and published her first book, Get that GRIT! which helps children with the application of perseverance.

Most recently, Marissa launched Briarwood Art Collective, a group of working local artists, from her studio in Okemos. Marissa’s work, often narrative in nature, uses primarily drawing media to achieve a “bittersweet aesthetic.” Often working in series, she aims to find the lighthearted side of struggles and moments of connection in everyday happenings.


Artist Statement

“What makes a house special?" As Gertie pedals down Ginkgo Street, she sweeps the reader off on a journey to discover what might be hiding in the neighboring houses. And when her tricycle adventure ends, we learn that excitement can be found right around the corner, nothing is what it seems, and home holds the most magic of all.”Gertie Lives on Ginkgo Street" is Marissa’s second book and is currently being queried for representation.

In addition to exploring the concept of space, her illustrations take on the visual challenge of complexity vs. simplicity. Inspired by an endearing love of spaces and the burning mystery of the unknown (ignited by books like The Velvet Room and The Secret Garden), this book nods back to her own childhood, to the sense of childlike adventure in others, and to discoveries yet to be made.