Marie Spaeder Haas is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, the youngest daughter of a creative and motivated family of artists and scientists. Though she exhibited ability and interest in the arts early on, she chose to pursue an education in the biological sciences, earning a Master’s Degree in Biology from St. Bonaventure University. This led to a 17 year stint teaching biology primarily at Villa Maria Academy in Erie. There she assumed duties of Chair of the Science Department and moderator for a number of student organizations. Through those years, she continued to create and grow in her creative explorations “on the side.”
A serendipitous encounter in the late 70’s with Dr. Frederick Franck, noted artist, writer and philosopher, led to private tutoring and mentoring, including several workshops and a guided three month solo tour of Europe in 1984, painting and drawing on location and visiting the major European museums to study the masters, an experience that changed her trajectory dramatically. Upon her return, her artistic endeavors took center stage. She found studio space on the campus of Villa Maria College (later Gannon University) and soon was given Artist in Residence status, teaching drawing and watercolor classes for adults and running the Sycamore Gallery. There she featured her own art in addition to offering exhibition opportunities to other artists in Northwest Pennsylvania during a regular bimonthly exhibition series. Her position as Artist in Residence also included the organization of a major juried exhibition of area artists during the annual Erie Arts Festival which was held on the campus of the University.
Other university responsibilities/opportunities included an extensive collaboration project with Gannon University Theater Department in 1986 which included a Zen of Seeing workshop, an exhibition of drawings by Frederick Franck and the production and tour of Dr. Frank’s play, Everyone: The Timeless myth of “Everyman” reborn. This resulted in the gift to the University of two Dr. Frank’s sculptures, both of which remain on the campus.
During this time Marie also developed “Touch Art,” unique acrylic painting constructions designed for interaction with pediatric and memory-impaired patients in hospitals and assisted living facilities. Ultimately 23 institutions across the country acquired pieces, including Shriners Hospital for Children; facilities of long-term care corporation HCR ManorCare; the VA hospital in Pasco County Florida; St Vincent Health Center and St Mary’s Home in Erie PA and other private long term care facilities in Pennsylvania.
Marie has had over thirty solo exhibits throughout her long career and has participated in many group shows as well in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina and Massachusetts. She has acquired signature membership in the Tennessee Watercolor Society, the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society, and the Southern Appalachian Artists Guild, garnering numerous awards along the way. Currently she is a regional representative and social media administrator for the Tennessee Watercolor Society. She works out of her rural studio in Ocoee, TN. Her work can be found in Glass Growers Gallery in Erie Pennsylvania, the Hetzel Gallery in Cleveland TN , the Blue Ridge Mountains Art Center in Blue Ridge GA as well as on social media and her website, www.SpaederHaasGallery.com.