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Watercolor of excellence

Michigan Tech professor honored

April 2, 2010
By STACEY KUKKONEN, DMG Writer

HOUGHTON - As a child, she knew she wanted to be an artist.

Those days, as she traveled with her family all over the country, making art was her comfort. It was from there she established the highest goals for her future and developed her dreams. She was going to be an artist.

"That was what made me happy," Mary Ann Beckwith said.

Article Photos

Gazette File photo
Local artist Mary Ann Beckwith is seen with one of her paintings in her classroom at Michigan Technological University. Recently, Beckwith was recognized by the American Watercolor Society.

Years later, Beckwith would live out her dream and become an art teacher within the department of visual and performing arts at Michigan Technological University.

"When I went to college, I dreamed of being involved with the arts," she said. "I thought maybe I'd teach."

After hundreds of paintings began as just an idea in her mind - and her bright-colored masterpieces can be found all over the Copper Country and the world - Beckwith is being honored for her work as a watercolor artist.

"This is my life dream," Beckwith said. "It's life changing and it's amazing to be included."

After being noticed by the American Watercolor Society, the "most prestigious watercolor society in the country," Beckwith will be going to New York City April 29 to receive an American Watercolor Society signature, she said.

"What that means is I can sign my paintings with 'AWS' behind my name," Beckwith said.

The American Watercolor Society is a group based in New York City founded in 1866 by a group of East Coast painters. It consists of only a few hundred members worldwide, Beckwith said. In order to use the signature, the artist must be accepted into three American Watercolor Society exhibitions over a number of years, she said.

"It's a group that supports a long tradition of excellence in watercolor," she said.

Beckwith has been with the university for 37 years, teaching art to students while also participating in local art shows. Last December, an art gallery at Central Michigan University was named in her honor.

Being honored by the American Watercolor Society is the icing on the cake, and a good way to start a new year, after a rather tough year behind her.

"I thought, 'Oh my God, I don't know if I deserve this,'" she said. "It's such a huge honor. It's so big and I'm stricken by it."

Beckwith said when she found out she was going to receive a signature, she was "thrilled beyond belief" as it was something she had worked toward her whole life.

"I'm grateful to be honored," she said.

Beckwith said there are only a couple of artists locally who show in the American Watercolor Society exhibition or have their signatures. However, there is no one in the Upper Peninsula who has their American Watercolor Society signature and the National Watercolor Society signature together as Beckwith does.

Now that Beckwith has hit a milestone in her life, she plans to focus on yet another big life goal.

"I'm not sure what I'll do next but I'll do something really fun," she said.

Stacey Kukkonen can be reached at skukkonen@mininggazette.com.

 
 

 

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