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Meet Marilyn Traeger

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marilyn Traeger.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve heard and seen a whole lot of artists’ stories, and I don’t believe that mine is all that unique. I was lucky enough to have had two very amazing parents, a teacher and an artist/businessman who supported and encouraged my love of art. My father pointed out to me at a young age that as much as I loved art- it was important to eat on a regular basis. The pragmatic choice might be to study art education.

And so I did, teaching my first class at a community school when I was still in high school. I studied at the University of Florida (BFA in Art Ed) and Florida International University (MS in Art Ed) I began teaching in the Miami Dade County Public Schools one month before my twenty-first birthday. I spent part of the first year searching for a new job!

But then, I fell in love. I always tell new teachers it takes at least three years to be comfortable, and even then we continue to learn from our students for the rest of our career.

Over the years I have focused my practice on making and creating.
Experiences | Paintings | Digital Images | Opportunities | Opportunities to Learn

Please tell us about your art.
Since the 2016 Presidential Election, I have been compelled to paint my disgust, disbelief, anguish, and sorrow through what is called the Sad Girl Series. Although I didn’t really paint, I was driven to express my emotions through the medium of acrylic. There was little else I could do to protest in a meaningful way. The series includes works that speak to the Paris Accord and the senseless gun violence at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

Because this topic can be emotionally draining, I also photograph my life and play in the mud throwing sub-par quality pots. Most recently my daughter and I have created a catering bakery – BakeZ.

Perhaps my most joyful creation is the Fund 4 Design & Art Education and the programs associated with it. A handful of my fellow RATS (Retired Art Teachers) and I help M-DCPS art students make their artistic dreams come true. Established in 2014 by co-founder Marlene Kohn and myself, with the kind and loving assistance of an artistic and generous village, we have awarded over $100,000 in Isaiah Scholarships to high school seniors to further their art education.

A lot of my time is spent creating and updating the Fund’s graphics and website. I wrote, designed and published a book, I Want to Draw I Want to Paint which showcases the Isaiah Scholars’ 12th-grade artworks.

When I think about it, you should know that all of my creating, making and artwork comes from a place of love.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Because I have always taught (a very high paying profession 🙂 ) I have never eaten off my art. I don’t regret my path for a second. I have met so many of my dear friends through teaching – students, parents, and colleagues alike. While I didn’t have wealth in the financial sense of the word, I have always felt richly rewarded.

While I was teaching full time, I had little time for serious creating unless I was taking classes at the university. I sometimes felt jealous of my students for not taking full advantage of the time they had to create.

I would suggest that sharing your love of art with others is THE most rewarding endeavor. There are ways to do so without stealing too much time from your art making. For example, I teach privately now both in person and online. I recently learned that we should “move the needle” and not necessarily endeavor to make a huge and dramatic change.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can find my work at:

and in group exhibitions in Florida and North Carolina.

People can support the Isaiah Scholars by writing a generous check to:

Dade Art Educators Association and note F4DAE,

then mailing it to:

Dade Art Educators Association

879 Eastward Drive

Miami Springs, FL 33166

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Eric Polin

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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