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Maggie Parks artwork to be featured in Ray Frederick Gallery

Maggie Parks and her artwork

The artwork of Marshalltown art teacher Maggie Parks, including these art quilts, will be featured in MCC’s Ray Frederick Gallery Jan. 17 through Feb. 9.

Marshalltown K-4th Grade Art Teacher Maggie Parks will share a display of her artwork in MCC’s Ray Frederick Gallery, room 306, on the Marshalltown Community College campus. The Parks exhibit opens with a reception from 12:15 to 1:30 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 17, and will be on display through noon Friday, Feb. 9.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of MCC’s Ray Frederick Gallery.

Parks’ artwork includes a mixture of many different kinds of art including pastel, watercolor, clay, collage, art quilts, and altered books. “I feel this is indicative of my role as an art teacher,” says Parks. “I’m always working to improve my skills in many different areas, and frequently take classes and workshops. Not only does this help me as an artist, but it also serves to remind me what it is like to be a learner. When my students struggle, I can relate to the frustrations they feel and help guide them forward to success.”

Parks characterizes her artwork as a constant exploration of what different art materials can do. “I love trying different combinations of materials,” she says. “I have a lot of drawings and photographs that inspire me. Many times these come from my demonstrations for students or examples I create for them, but other times they are just images I find or create.”

“I really began thinking of myself as an artist at age 10, when a family friend showed me a clay deposit in a creek bed,” she explains. “She was taking a class that used raw clay found locally and explained how to prepare the clay, make a coil pot, and pit-fire the pottery. I didn’t get to fire the clay, but I was hooked. It was several years before I worked with pottery at school, but I would use any kind of clay I could find near my home, and often improvised with mud. I would paint them with watercolor paints and my mother would kindly place them on the kitchen shelf. Clay led me to the art department, where I picked up a love for many different kinds of art. I started college with an open major and was seriously looking at Geology, but I missed having art in my daily life so I declared art education as my major.”

Parks shares that sometimes as a teacher she struggles with the adversity that she sees her students living through. “Occasionally I use art as a form of therapy to express my horror or other emotions that spill over. It is a very effective catharsis.”

A native Iowan, Parks grew up in Adel, went to both Iowa and Iowa State for a bachelor’s degree, then back to Iowa State for a master’s degree. She moved to Garwin to teach in 1991, and has lived there ever since with her husband and their two dogs and two rabbits. Her first teaching position was shared between GMG and STC, and she drove between Garwin, Chelsea, and Montour. She accepted a position with the Marshalltown School District in 1998.

“I really like the diversity of the Marshalltown schools, which influences the artwork the students create,” says Parks. “But I also like going home to a very small, quiet town where I can clear my head at the end of the day.”

Parks’ artwork has been featured in a variety of shows at Fisher Community Center through the Central Iowa Art Association, and in the art teacher shows held at the fall conference in different locations around Iowa. She has also displayed work with the Art Quilters of Iowa.

The artwork exhibited at MCC will not be for sale, but Parks and her husband sell pet urns at the Town & Country Vet in Tama, and she sells her work at Destination Artistry in Des Moines.

The Ray Frederick Gallery is open weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information, contact MCC Art Professor Tim Castle at 641-844-5776 or

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