Merrilyn Duzy is a figurative artist who works in diverse media: oil painting, collage, pastel, encaustics, mixed-media, and computer art. Her subject matter includes human figures, portraits of friends and artists, landscapes, seascapes, and the cosmos. She is also an educator, lecturer, and curator of exhibitions on women artists, erotica, cosmic imagery, and spirituality.
Duzy grew up in semi-rural Pacoima, California – the second oldest in a group of eight siblings – in a troubled, dysfunctional family where she was the caretaker and maternal figure for her six younger siblings. She endured turmoil, poverty, and even homelessness. School, however, remained a safe and sane place for her. Because of financial difficulty and personal trauma, it took ten years for her to complete her B.A. in Fine Art at California State University, Northridge in 1974.
In 1976, Duzy joined the Southern California Chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art and became its President in 1980. Duzy created her “Women Artists in History” series, in which she portrayed thirty female artists from the 10th century on, beginning with the Spanish nun, Ende, and ending with Frieda Kahlo. Each portrait was painted by Duzy in the style of the artist portrayed, with each artist pictured in the costumes and settings of her time. The example shown above is her painting of artist Suzanne Valadon, a wonderful figurative artist who unfortunately is better known today for being the mother of Maurice Utrillo. Duzy was inspired to paint these female artists after the success of a performance piece, created by her and others for the WCA’s National Conference which showcased the work of women artists and highlighted their absence in art history textbooks.
She moved to Florida for a time and developed a Florida chapter of the WCA, serving as its president for two terms. This allowed women artists of the Tampa region to participate in the National WCA. It was in Florida that she created her illustrated lecture, “Walking Through History: Women Artists Past & Present,” which she presented throughout the United States and in several other countries including France, Israel, and Philippines.
In 1986, Duzy returned to California and after earning her M.F.A. at Otis Art Institute in 1988 found renewal of her spiritual self with “The Creation Series.” This led to large oil paintings of landscapes with a touch of eroticism, such as “Night Canyon” and “Night’s Consort.”
Her “Cosmic Series” are abstract mixed media works on paper and digital prints, which showcase her love for astronomy, the universe, cosmic imagery, and creation myths, in such works as “Back of Beyond” and “Maya.”
Her “Language” and “Language Palimpsest” Series are mixed media pieces on wood panels, comprised of paint, ink, paper, string, and metallic dust. They involve: pictographs in cave paintings; quotes on creation; language systems; divine proportions of sacred geometry as seen in her “Sacred Geometry”; symbols such as the hexagram and the Mandorla; and tribal dance in her “Spiral Dance.”
Her work has been showcased in numerous group and solo exhibitions in galleries and museums in California, New York, North Carolina, New Mexico, Washington, Florida, Canada, Denmark, England, Taiwan, China, South Korea, and the Philippines.