MARIKA, Denise Denise Marika, a mother, artist, friend, and activist, died July 10th in her home after a recurrence of breast cancer. She was 63 years old. At once both political and deeply personal, Denise's work reflected her bold, fiercely independent spirit, her courageous vulnerability, and her fierce loyalty to those less fortunate. Her long-time assistant, Tom Fahey, remembers her as one of the strongest people he's ever known: "No matter how hard and unfair life got for her personally, she always seemed to keep perspective and was always focused on her mission and vision. A mission to give those a voice that had none. A vision to live life in an artful and meaningful way." Denise was born in New York City in 1955. She attended the Putney School in Vermont and then Pomona College in California, where she graduated in 1977. She went on to complete a Masters of Fine Arts at UCLA in 1984. A resident of Brookline, Mass., for more than 25 years, Denise was known for her work as a solo artist but also as a professor committed to the development and promotion of young artists. While her longest tenure was at the Massachusetts College of Art, Denise also taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Rhode Island School of Design. Her exhibitions included solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and MassMoCA in North Adams, Mass., as well as a residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Her last solo show, "Bodywaves" was exhibited in February at the Howard Yezerski Gallery in South Boston. At the time of her death, Denise was collaborating with Luanne Witkowski on a show that will open on September 5 at the Kingston Gallery in South Boston, where works of both artists will be on display. A fearless and enthusiastic traveler, Denise's personal and professional ventures extended far beyond the Northeast United States to areas as far away as Cambodia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. In addition to exhibiting internationally, Denise worked as a Fulbright Specialist, using her art as a tool for advocacy and teaching art and social practice in Nepal and Sri Lanka. Always curious and willing to help, Denise shot and produced a number of documentary videos for non-profit organizations in the fields of healthcare, education, disability, and human rights. In the hopes of extending her support of grassroots efforts, Denise founded a nonprofit, the Marika Foundation for Social Action, which distributes grants to social justice projects worldwide. In addition to her contributions as an artist and activist, Denise will be remembered for her personal gifts: her fearlessness, ingenuity, good humor, and warmth. Denise spoke truth not just to those in power, but to everyone who crossed her path. She lived boldly, never holding back, embracing the widest possible range of ideas and people with her wise and compassionate heart. She was a loving mother, trusted confidante, and loyal friend. She is survived by her children, Desta Marika and Erik Marika-Rich, her mother, Marietta Lutze, and her rescue dog, Maya. A memorial will be held in Lexington on Sunday August 26th. Donations in her memory can be made to her foundation at https://www.marikafoundation.org/team/
or in support of her daughter's run in the B.A.A. Half-Marathon to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at https://bit.ly/2Lr8hcN
In a post on social media, Fahey wrote directly to Denise, expressing what so many of us feel: "You were an amazing woman.... and your impact on the world will never stop, the things you set into motion will feed back into infinity. I love you." View the online memorial for Denise MARIKA
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Published by Boston Globe from Aug. 3 to Aug. 5, 2018.