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Marilyn Jensen Houlberg, professor, photographer, author, artist, art historian, and anthropologist who died June 29, 2012 was the cherished daughter of the late Carl and Magna Jensen of Chicago. Marilyn, born July 17, 1939, is survived by her daughters, Magda and Mia, their father and her former husband, Klindt Houlberg; grandson, Jamie Houlberg; sister, Joanne and her husband, Carl Finstrom; and brother, Carl William Jensen, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins and their families. Marilyn is also survived by her very special friend, John Yancey and the Yancey family. Marilyn attended Chicago public schools followed by further education at Northwestern University, receiving degrees from the University of Chicago, and in Great Britain from University College London. She was Professor Emerita from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, having taught there for over 20 years. A dedicated and beloved teacher, she brought boundless energy and an electric magic to her students and inspired countless lives and careers. A prolific scholar and writer, Mambo Marilyn wrote many professional journal articles on Nigerian and Haitian art, photographing on location their respective arts and cultural rites with such skill the photos now reside in the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Elisofon Photographic Archives, Washington, DC. She also authored books on those subjects, including her most recent publication, "Water Spirits of Haitian Vodou: Lasiren, Queen of Mermaids" in Mami-Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and the African Atlantic World, edited by Henry Drewel. Marilyn was curator of many exhibits such as the Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou, co-curated with Donald Cosentino, shown in LA, Miami, Chicago, New York, Washington, DC and New Orleans, In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st-Century Haitian Art at the UCLA Fowler Museum, and the retrospective on Derek Webster's sculptures and paintings, Vibrant Spirits: The Art of Derek Webster at Intuit in Chicago. She has contributed Haitian art objects to various museums in the United States. Marilyn's Elvis Presley installation in her Chicago home has been viewed by thousands and frequently written about in the press. In 1994, she curated The All-Elvis Hunks Hunka Bernin' Love Show at TabulaRasa Gallery. She was a most talented and knowledgeable artist discovering and encouraging new artists in the United States and in her beloved Haiti. Marilyn will be greatly missed by her loving family, her many dear and close friends as well as by her students and professional colleagues. A celebration of Marilyn's remarkable life will be held in July 2013 in Chicago.
Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Nov. 1, 2012
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