Memories of Merle

By Olivia Suffern

Merle Rosen was my teacher and mentor. She taught me how to draw, helped me prepare my portfolio for college, and was a great friend and role model to me during a time in my life when I was awkward and lacked confidence.

I’m sure my memories of Merle, though incredibly special to me, are similar to many other stories of those lucky enough to have known her. However I feel that if I share them with some of her close friends, even if we’ve never met, that I will feel a little more at peace with her sudden loss.

I met Merle at her “Drawing from the Very Beginning” course at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The class was technically intended for adults. I was only in high school, so I was hyper nervous on the first day. Merle sensed my anxiety quickly, and joked that the grown-ups in the room probably felt much farther out of their comfort zones that I did. This type of calming, down-to-earth energy was so typical of Merle.

I enjoyed her class and improved so rapidly under her instruction that I began taking weekly lessons each Thursday evening from Merle in her Dane Ave. studio. I delighted in selecting old animal bones, sock puppets and natural specimens from her ever growing collection of treasurers to use as props for still life compositions. She always offered advice, warmth, and a cup of tea to each of her students.

Arriving at Merle’s studio felt like entering a sacred dimension. She was my liaison to the art world, and her influence on my life is irreplaceable

I am overwhelmed with emotion and have cried a lot, but I would not categorize my feelings as grief; rather intense gratitude that I had the privilege of knowing and learning from Merle. I will miss her magical presence.

 

Merle Rosen May 6, 1949 – June 19, 2017