MARLA PANKO was born in Toronto and grew up in Southern Ontario. Upon the completion of a BFA from the University of Guelph and earning an MFA scholarship from the University of Windsor, Panko settled in Hamilton and now resides in Dundas, Ontario. She has been a working professional artist for over forty years exhibiting extensively throughout the region in both public and private galleries including solo exhibitions at The Art Gallery of Hamilton (1990), Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant (2009), and the Art Gallery of Burlington (2012) among others. She has been represented locally by Gallery on the Bay and the Carnegie Gallery and her work can be found in many private and public collections including the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Cambridge Galleries / Idea Exchange, Crown Life Inc., and the University of Windsor. Her work has received numerous awards, and she was most recently the winner of a Hamilton Arts Council Creator Award in 2022.
Alongside her artistic practice, Panko has sustained a long and varied career in art education and arts administration. After four years at the Art Gallery of Hamilton working in their Education Department, she was an instructor in the Visual Arts Department at Brock University for six years. She taught concurrently at the Burlington Arts Centre (AGB), and was a longtime member of the Dundas Valley School of Art faculty from 1984-2016. She also participated in the “Artist at the Centre Project’ for twelve years as a consultant and advocate for children’s creative thinking. She has been very involved in the arts community and volunteered as Director of the DVSA Gallery for many years. Panko has spoken widely on art and art education throughout the region, and has held the position of Curator of the Carnegie Gallery since 2015.
ABOUT THE WORK
Panko’s work is visually rooted in geometric formalism incorporating the structured use of colour and composition as a means of organizing pictorial space. However, the integration of appropriated images and found materials further suggests an underlying contextual narrative that explores themes of of impermanence, memory, and shared culture.
“The work is an effort to make visual sense of a complex world. My process is grounded in both painting and collage — often interchangeable and frequently combined. As a painter, I value the pure non-representational interplay of formal elements, carefully constructed to create an interdependent and unified whole. As a collage artist, l appreciate the spontaneous and intuitive connection with physical materials. Working in collage has led me to explore found elements including text and images which reference current culture. Incorporating textiles introduces further possibilities for surface texture and transparency, while the use of slow repetitive hand stitching encourages personal reflection giving form to an internal monologue. Whether working with paint, paper, or stitched fabric, this regard for tactile materials invites a process of continual alteration and subtle layering allowing ideas to emerge and become formalized. I welcome the opportunity as an artist to move fluidly between media in this pursuit.”
The challenge to achieve a unified elegance of meaning and form is unchanging. The work is less about the co-existence of fragments than it is about creating a new poetic hybrid.