Marianne Goldberg: Art is Life

Marianne Goldberg. —Peter Simon

Dr. Marianne Goldberg was a writer, choreographer, visual artist, and founder of Pathways Projects Institutes in Chilmark. She was also an early supporter and patron of Arts & Ideas Magazine. She received her doctorate in performance studies from NYU, M.F.A. in choreography from Smith College, and B.A. in aesthetic education from UC Santa Cruz. Her scholarly writings and “Performance Pieces for Print” have been published in the Drama Review, Artforum International, Women and Performance, and numerous other journals and books. Her choreography has been performed across the U.S. and internationally.
Marianne Goldberg agreed to be interviewed for a story originally scheduled for the Spring 2015 edition of Arts & Ideas. The interview focuses on Pathways Projects Institutes, created in 2010 to cultivate a place to share work from any artistic medium from November through April. Since her death in December 2015, her organization, now Pathways ARTS, has announced it will continue to support and engage in collaborative arts projects.
VS: Now you’ve had years of experience working in this cross-pollination in the arts, where different generations meet.
MG: Yeah, that’s important. The most important support is not financial. It’s the respect. You have to believe in yourself very fully. And sometimes the culture doesn’t believe in you in the same way it does other people. Especially for women or artists who aren’t commercially successful. Let me just say we’re creating an environment where people need to feel safe, protected, and I’m the protector. This is my space, and I’ve created an environment where people do feel safe.

VS: You’ve created an environment of intentional cross-pollination.
MG: Yes, definitely. I don’t feel like there have been that many specific collaborations, but there’s something else, like a huge artistic friendship. I see these people who didn’t know each other before working together, being friends, creating a web. I wanted to have this collaborative arts center, and people don’t want that connection to end.

VS: How has Pathways inspired you as an artist?
MG: It’s the opposite, mostly. Being an artist is the whole basis of Pathways. I didn’t want to put my work forward; it was more about the community.

VS: It’s a lifeline in the winter.
MG: Mmhmm. We’re lucky to have winter, because if we didn’t have a winter, there wouldn’t be any time for this kind of thing. We’d all be scurrying all the time all year, so this creates time. When I arrived here, the quiet was like, “Oh my God, I can create.”
So it’s a godsend, that’s how I feel about it. When Pathways started, it was just a small thing, and everybody said it wouldn’t be able to happen.
Each year it’s been more of a celebration, but this year, the culminating night was ecstatic for me. I felt the energy in the room, and the connections between people. There have been different events where it’s happened. I remember one night people started singing “Amazing Grace,” and I thought, “Wow, people felt comfortable and spontaneous; that’s wonderful.” This year on closing night … I don’t even think I have any words for it. I couldn’t express it, and that’s why I started dancing.

VS: Which was so cute!
MG: (laughing) I don’t even know what I did; I’ll have to see the improvisation on the videotape. And then I jumped into the air at the end, and was like, “Oh my God, thankfully I came down on my two feet.” I just opened up to the love and appreciation that was there.

It is with mixed emotions I share the above interview. I am sorry Marianne did not get to fulfill her own artistic dreams, but her unwavering support for the arts and artists of Martha’s Vineyard is a legacy none of us can deny, and the effects will be felt for years to come. We are ever grateful for having Marianne in our lives. —VS

Valerie Sonnenthal writes regularly for MV Times publications, and is the newspaper’s Chilmark columnist.

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