Marajen the Artist
Marajen’s interest in the arts seemed to come naturally from her father’s side of the family. Her grandmother and two aunts painted, including Marie Stevick who was head of the art department at the Skinner School of Music in Bloomington, Illinois. In fact, that is where Marajen’s parents met while her mother, a gifted soprano, was studying opera.
The Museum’s Stevick Family/Champaign News-Gazette Collection includes paintings signed “M. Stevick” that we believe were painted by Marajen’s Aunt,
Marajen had an appreciation of nature based on her frequent use of seascape, landscape, flowers and other plants in her paintings and the abundance of flowers at the villa. Perhaps some of this came from father David W. Stevick. According to a history of the News-Gazette written by local historian Natalia Belting, David skipped a hotel room in favor of camping when traveling, especially if it was a pleasure trip rather than for business.
Marajen was largely self-taught and reportedly had begun painting by age eight.
Maarten van de Guchte, in his program notes for the Krannert Art Museum show, wrote “the gardens gracing the surroundings of Torre di Civita have inspired some of the most memorable paintings of Marajen Stevick Chinigo. The views explore lights and darjs caught by the ever-changing flowers, vines, and arbors that punctuate the seasons of the Ravello hills. Marajen’s artistic endeavors have become a quest for beauty in nature- and the optimal way of arresting that ephemeral state.”
Her paintings “show the Gulf of Salerno, the hillsides of that part of Italy, the gardens and flowers surrounding her villa,” the Torre di Civita which “has become the gravitational center of her art. In Italy, Marajen has found her life-long inspiration, creating her art in an unceasing endeavor to compete with the beauty of flowers.”
Marajen Stevick Chinigo was a prolific painter who likely created hundreds of works over her lifetime. An exact number and listing do not exist, nor does a record of where the vast maiority of the paintings are now. Marajen exhibited her paintings in Europe and won silver and bronze medals. She won an Honorable Mention at the Capri International Competition in 1965 for "The Tower of Maria Giovanna" that is included in this exhibit.
Closer to home, Champaign's First United Methodist Church exhibited thirty-six of her paintings in November-December 1972. Marajen had a one-woman show at the Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences in Peoria. Illinois, in 1974. She also had a show at the Illini Union Art Gallerv in 1997 with a reprise at the Krannert Art Museum in 1997-98. Some of the paintings on display were included in these three shows.