Celebrating Marcelle Ferron – “My aim has always been modest. I wanted to transform the arranged marriage [of art and architecture] into a love match.” —Marcelle Ferron
Today’s Doodle celebrates the life and work of the renowned Canadian painter, sculptor, and glassmaker, whose famous installation in Montreal’s Vendôme station was unveiled on this day in 1981. Marcelle Ferron’s striking design combined colorful stained glass with a spiraling stainless steel sculpture, a unique style that inspired the Doodle’s art.
Born in 1924, Ferron studied at the École des beaux-arts de Québec, but left upon realizing she was unable to find answers to her questions about modern art. Upon meeting Québec abstract painter Paul-Émile Borduas, she joined his Automatiste group and became one of the youngest artists to sign their 1948 manifesto Refus global. Ferron went on to spend 13 years painting in Paris, exhibiting her work at the 1961 São Paulo Biennial in Brazil, where she won a silver medal.
Her meeting with glassmaker Michel Blum sparked an interest in glass as an art medium. Over time, she devised her own methods, building “walls of light” connected by invisible joints that allowed her to create large planes of color. These innovative techniques can be seen in her mural for Expo 67 and public commissions in the Champ-de-Mars train station, Sainte-Justine Hospital, and the Granby courthouse.
Throughout her 50-year career, Ferron became one of Canada’s most important contemporary artists and was made a Knight of the National Order of Québec in 1985, then promoted to Grand Officer in 2000. This restless visionary’s achievements blazed a trail for women aspiring to make a mark in what was a traditionally male-dominated space.
Doodler Up Close
Today’s Doodle was created by Doodler Lydia Nichols. Below, she shares some thoughts on Marcelle Ferron and the inspiration for this Doodle:
Q: Marcelle Ferron expressed her bold creativity in many mediums, including painting, sculpture, and glass. What part of her story is most inspiring to you personally?
A: I most appreciate Ferron’s curiosity and audacity. She moved among media uninhibited and became a notable figure, even during her time—something difficult for any artist, but certainly women in particular.
Q: Google Doodles feature all sorts of subjects, from world leaders to wonders of nature. Why do you think it’s important to tell the story of Marcelle Ferron?
A: Often art is viewed as simply an aesthetic endeavor, but art—and artists—can create real social change. Ferron is one of those artists who joined others to use their work to further their ideas and philosophy in a palpable and lasting way.
Q: What was your creative vision for this Doodle? How does it tell Marcelle’s story?
A: As noted, Ferron was an artist adept in many media and what I love most about her and her body of work was her ability to translate her philosophy across those media. Moving from paint to glass not only required expanding and evolving her visual language and technical skillset, but also moving her art from within museum and gallery walls and into the public. When developing concepts for this Doodle, I wanted to focus on her stained glass work not only because of how iconic it is but because of how accessible it is too.
Q: At what point in your life did you know that you loved the visual arts? Was there a particular artist or teacher who inspired you to develop your talents?
A: Like most children, I drew often—I just never stopped, even as I got older! Art isn’t the easiest field, so perseverance has been my greatest tool. Being an illustrator is more than just drawing things—it’s research, design, problem-solving, puzzling. I can’t imagine doing anything else, so I took the leap with some support and some opposition, as is often the case. I’m quite lucky to have landed where I have!
Q: Do you have any technical tips and tricks to share with young aspiring artists?
A: Find what works for you! Art is as much about the process as it is the final piece—if you don’t enjoy the process, it will show in your work. Sometimes that means letting go of aesthetics you like in favor of techniques you find rewarding, even if challenging. In other words, the variety of art I like to look at is much greater than the type of art I like to make—and that’s quite alright!
Early concepts by artist Lydia Nichols
You can find more about Celebrating Marcelle Ferron on the official Google Doodle Page