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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Verve: Marion Flanary’s paintings explore spiritual journey

Marion Flanary’s paintings are representations of a spiritual journey and include ethereal figures and soothing colors. (Dan Pelle)
Marion Flanary’s paintings are representations of a spiritual journey and include ethereal figures and soothing colors. (Dan Pelle) Buy this photo

Marion Flanary is mobile; she goes with the flow and embraces change.

Her work embodies this notion, representing movement in color, shape and figures, some faceless, that appear to be dreaming, reaching, holding, breathing and growing. One piece, “Vibration of Voices,” shows half a dozen faces tilted toward the sky. Their mouths are open and they seem to be emitting or receiving something. “This work speaks to the energy created by people singing or praying together,” she said.

Flanary grew up in Spokane. She attended Marycliff High School where she never took art classes but knew she wanted to do something to make the world a better place. After high school, she started traveling, working and learning. She lived many places including the East Coast and the south of France, where she worked on an organic farm.

She eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and another in studio art from Eastern Washington University as well as a master’s in art therapy from Marylhurst University in Oregon. She has worked in many mediums, thinking less about the outcome and more about the act of creating.

“It’s about the making of things,” she said.

Flanary’s work exudes emotion and spirituality. To her, life is less about the destination then it is about the journey, and there are many ways to travel. When her mother died 18 months ago, she describes it as getting on the bus.

“She was worried about getting her wings,” Flanary said. “I suggested an alternative transportation. Four days before she died, she got very excited because someone visited her and told her that the bus was coming. She was looking forward to the trip and talking, laughing and having ice cream.”

Flanary settled in Spokane about eight years ago after coming to care for her mother. About eight months ago, she became a part of Manic Moon and More, first as a spiritual counselor and then as an artist after she submitted a piece for a group show. “They had no idea that I made art,” she said. “Creating has always been a part of my journey.”

Now, she paints in a converted bedroom on the lower South Hill, representing her own spiritual journey, combining what is seen and what is hidden in a mix of realism and abstraction.

Much of her work is filled with subtle “lessons” like “While You’re not Watching,” a piece she describes as a comment on distractions and how easy it is to forget to live in the now.

Her desire is simply to help others grow and move forward; become mobile so to speak.

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