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Natale paints Rowan’s history
Marie Natale ’75, ’79
No task is too tall for artist Marie Natale ’75, ’79. After creating seven five-foot-tall beach-themed lighthouses for “Beacons By the Sea,” a lighthouse parade held in Atlantic City over the summer, Natale got a call from Rowan University Foundation Executive Director Phil Tumminia M’69 to create an eighth lighthouse, this one especially for her alma mater. “I was absolutely thrilled with the idea,” she said. “To create something for the University meant so much to me.”

The fiberglass lighthouse depicts Native Americans, the Whitney Glass Factory and Rowan’s Bunce and Laurel halls and Hollybush mansion. The image of President Johnson meeting with Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin in 1967 is shown along with paintings of the present-day campus and newer buildings, such as Campbell Library and Rowan Hall. A path decorated with lyrics to the University’s Alma Mater winds around the base.

“The lighthouse expresses Glassboro’s history in addition to Rowan’s roots,” said Natale. “History is something we need to learn from, respect and embrace. That is what I tried to capture in this piece.”

Natale, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education at Glassboro, remembers who helped her along the way. “Kumiko Murashima and Dr. Jim Wright were my mentors,” she said. “They were supportive and encouraging, yet challenging. I felt they always had time for me.”

After graduating, Natale taught art in Brigantine Public Schools and Pleasantville High School. Seeking new challenges, she launched and managed a designer children’s clothing line. After 10 years, Natale put aside her business to become a freelance artist specializing in industrial design. “It was time to move on,” she said.

The Egg Harbor Township resident continues to flourish as an artist. She held her first one-woman show at the Galloway Cultural Arts Center and designs holiday gift items for Walmart. “To see something you created mass produced and on shelves in a store is truly amazing,” she said.

Natale hopes to do more with her paintings and personal artwork. “As an artist you’re putting yourself out there and hope people will find your work appealing,” she said. “You just have to work hard, be open for anything and go from there.”

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