Maryette Charlton Biography

Maryette Charlton

1924-2013

Biography

Visual and performance artist, filmmaker, teacher, and arts advocate Maryette Charlton was born in Manchester, Iowa, in 1924. She studied at Monticello College and Northwestern University in Illinois, Antioch College in Ohio, and the University of Colorado before receiving her B.F.A. at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in 1947. During this time she worked as a color analyst for the Container Corporation of America.

Once she graduated she moved to Chicago to take courses under Moholy-Nagy and Hugo Weber at the Institute of Design and the Art Institute of Chicago. An opportunity to teach in Lebanon brought her to American University, Beirut, where she founded the Art Department. There she taught as assistant professor until 1956, by which time she had enrolled in Columbia University. She officially settled in New York in 1956 and graduated from Columbia with an M.F.A. in film and printmaking in 1958.

While creating her own art and teaching, Charlton established herself as a champion of the arts and worked hard to broadcast the careers of artist friends. Part of her mission relied on the use of film, both behind and in front of the lens. Through filmmaking, Charlton documented the work of many artists, including Alexander Calder, e.e. cummings, Pierre Matisse, Dorothy Miller, Frederick Kiesler, Leonore Tawney, and others. As a performer, she appeared as a supporting actor or performer in the works of Cindy Lubar, Richard Foreman, Jo Andres, Tim Miller, Steve Buscemi, and others. Her final performance was in the Helen Keller film "Ghostlight" (2003). Charlton exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. She died in New York City in 2013.