It’s hard to imagine, when you’re on the first leg of life’s journey, which road or door will lead you to your goal. It was that way for me when I came to Buffalo State College in the fall of 1967. I, Marilyn Wilson, remember walking into the doors of Upton Hall with great excitement and anticipation. I was going to art school and I wanted to become a teacher! I made my way down the first corridor to room 107, Design 101. I opened the door and shyly took my seat. A tall and striking dark-haired man entered the room and introduced himself as Professor Robert Wilson. My life had just taken the turn that would begin my journey and allow me through the “Transforming Lives Campaign” to give back to the place responsible for shaping my professional and personal life.
PAINTED BY JEREMIAH KIRBY, 2013-RECIPIENT OF THE FIRST ROBERT AND MARILYN WILSON SCHOLARSHIP
In Professor Wilson’s class, the knowledge of communicating ideas through the elements of art was first revealed to me. Throughout my four years, painting, photography and art history were my main vehicles for expressing this knowledge. Graduating with a Bachelors of Education and later with a Masters of Science, I began a very rewarding 40-year career as an art teacher with the Buffalo Public Schools. I taught every grade level from Elementary to High School, and for many years my efforts were rewarded with the opportunity to mentor art student teachers from Buffalo State in my classroom. It was a great privilege to share my teaching experience with them, and after retiring, I was able to continue this relationship when I was invited by the Art Education Department, to be a student teacher supervisor. I concentrated on inner-city placements and later taught several art courses for non-art majors. It was very fulfilling to continue to teach and hopefully inspire students along the way.
In 1996, when Robert died, I was faced with the task of how to share the many works of art that he had created throughout his life. It occurred to me to donate his work to the places that had the most influence on his life. Beginning with the library in his childhood home of Sullivan, Indiana, then California State University, where he received his educational and fine arts degrees. I lastly donated a collection of 36 regional landscape and abstract works to Buffalo State where he spent the majority of his teaching and painting career until his retirement in 1986.
As part of the “Transforming Lives” Buffalo State Campaign, I am honored to establish The Robert C. and Marilyn L. Wilson Painting Scholarship, an endowment fund that will provide Scholarships to students in the Fine Arts Department with a declared major in painting. In addition, two new paintings and a plaque honoring Robert Wilson’s work will hang in Upton Halls newly named Robert C. and Marilyn L. Wilson Advanced Painting Studio. For me, this endowment not only provides a place to acknowledge the career and work of Robert, but also provides a hands-on environment to connect with students committed to painting.
I am committed to giving back. Teaching and creating art is a lifelong process, one that cannot be “retired from”. It is a privilege and a responsibility to be able to continue to interact with students, share your knowledge and experience with them, and to continue to make a difference in someone’s life.
So, as I once again take familiar steps through the doors of Upton hall and make my way to this exciting and new painting studio where I once aspired to be an artist and teacher, it gives me great comfort to realize that I have come full circle and accomplished my greatest life goal. As Robert and I were both inspired and privileged to teach and paint here during our time at Buffalo State, I hope that this gift and space will inspire future students in the arts for many years to come.
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