Born in Dayton, Ohio on October 31, 1930, the daughter of Theodore and Margaret (Burke) Suman, Marjorie received her B.Sc. in Business/Psychology at Kentucky’s Bowling Green University. Her early years gave little indication that she would become the most prolific artist ever of Rhode Island’s architectural, or built, landscape.
Eventually Marjorie discovered her natural talent for art, especially for drawing and delineating in pen-and-ink. Throughout her productive life, Marjorie honed her skills through specialized training and travel. At the Philippine Women’s University in Manila she studied drawing and Chinese oil painting; in Norway she developed her talent for sketching; and she engaged in general art studies including drawing at L’Ecole des Art in Senegal. In America she studied printmaking at Houston’s Museum School of Art, architecture at the Boston Architectural Center, sculpture at St. Petersburg, Florida, commercial art at Johnson and Wales University, architectural rendering, perspective drawing, and archeological illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, and delineating at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
What emerged from this diverse array of technical study is the largest body of Rhode Island-themed illustration ever produced by a single hand.
Marjorie came to Rhode Island in the early 1970s and began her work on local scenes. Her business venture–aptly named “Rhode Island Originals”–operated first in Narragansett and then at the historic Lafayette Mill on Ten Rod Road in North Kingstown from 1989 onward. She was a fixture at the Wickford Art Festival, exhibited her drawings and watercolors at many local galleries, and shared her expertise and experience with hundreds of local students. During her long career, she created precise and accurate scenes for prints, site and town maps, posters, note cards, and ornaments, as well as architectural renderings from blueprints. The precision and detail of her work is stunning to the eye.
Marjorie’s talent did not go unnoticed by those beyond Rhode Island’s borders. Her work is displayed in four presidential libraries, the Vatican, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Capitol, Winterthur Museum, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and Liberty State Park among the more notable repositories.
Marjorie died unexpectedly on August 18, 2007 with her talent undiminished. She is survived by two children, Douglas and Diana, and by her art which will forever depict and illuminate the varied architectural landscape of her adopted state.