Do our jobs define us? Perhaps, but off the clock endeavors say a lot about who we are, too.
Each year, past and present Omaha Public Library (OPL) employees are invited to exhibit their creativity in the Michael Phipps Gallery, located on the first floor of W. Dale Clark (Main) Library. In January, paintings, drawings, knit apparel, photography, jewelry and more graced its walls and display cases during the annual OPL staff art exhibit.
A name prevalent in this year’s exhibit: Mary Marchio.
Marchio worked at OPL from 1978 to her retirement in 2005. She is a frequent patron of South Omaha Library and enjoys mysteries and craft books. She currently volunteers cataloging digital images for the Nebraska Memories project at Main Library.
“The staff show is a great way to show that library workers are creative people outside of their jobs,” Marchio noted.
She has displayed her pieces in the exhibit most years. This year, she displayed works in various mediums. Her all-time favorite, and most challenging piece, however, was not on show this year. “It was a superhero costume that I made for my son Pete. I was a little intimidated when he chose this particular pattern. It was a top and pants with padded “muscles”; a cape; felt belt, gauntlets, and shin guards. It required a lot of techniques that I hadn’t used before – like trapunto to construct the six-pack abs!” Marchio exclaimed.
Her mother is a source of her creative inspiration. “My mother taught me to sew and knit; she learned from her mother. Both women continued to learn to use different materials and techniques throughout their creative lives. I hope to follow that example.” She gives most finished projects as gifts.
Marchio’s husband Riccardo, an Omaha native who displayed his work in the Gallery in September 2012, is an artist, too. “He’s the artist between us,” Mrs. Marchio noted.
Mr. Marchio’s creative outlet is through musical instruments. “Mandolins, violins, guitars, and kalimbas (thumb pianos). They take both traditional shapes and non conventional forms that are perhaps more sculptural,” he described. He is owner of Marchio Music.
“Mary and I are also musicians. I started making musical sculptures 30 some years ago as an attempt at integrating what seemed to be disparate creative flows into some sort of whole. That continues today.”
That Marchio remains connected to OPL despite her retirement is an honor. Events like the annual art exhibit are the Library’s “thanks” to current and past library staff whose extracurricular endeavors help define who they are as people. Creativity both at and away from the Library deserves to be showcased, and our staff never ceases to impress.
You can hear Mary Marchio on Sunday nights on KIOS-FM.