Janet Turner Print Museum

Reflections from Chico Students and Colleagues

Eileen Macdonald (Professor, printmaking):

There were a few short years when Marion and I overlapped in the printmaking program. 

Marion was the most welcoming of professors. Anyone who had the slightest inclination to learn about printmaking was encouraged to arrive at the studio, receive all of the knowledge that they could tap into, and develop at their own pace. He didn’t push his expectations, he encouraged students to develop their own; he didn’t require, he fostered individual growth. 

Marion had taught for more than 30 years by the time that I arrived. He was always patient with me as I implemented changes on his turf. (Thank you for your grace, Marion). I continue to admire the calm atmosphere that he created in the studio: he played and introduced me to Buena Vista Social Club. I’m still an avid listener.  

He brought his complex etching plates to his classes to print. I distinctly recall that one plate was based on a book that he was currently reading to Maryam, his youngest daughter. (Was it The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?) 

Most prominently, I remember Marion’s insights and historical knowledge of the Janet Turner Print Museum. As a colleague of Janet’s and a board member, he was fiercely dedicated to continuing her mission. 

J. Pouwels (Professor, painting and drawing):

I have a short story about Marion, and my only real interaction with him. I think it was his last semester FERPing. I had just arrived here in Chico, fall 2006, and wanted to take advantage of the print lab. I had an idea that I felt needed to be done as a series of dry points. In the evenings for a week or so, I went into the lab to cut into plates and the print them up. Marion was welcoming and supportive of my being there. There were a few students working each evening, and I remember you asking me at one point to show a plate to a student as an example of the dry point process. 

When it came time to print, Marion came up to me as I was selecting ink, and said he had a special blend that he offered to me to use. It was a relatively simple offer, but for someone new to the dept, it was a nice example of the welcoming spirit of the dept., and made me feel more comfortable about the decision I’d made to move here. I never forgot that act of kindness, and have always been appreciative of this show of support.

Sheri Simons (Professor Emerita, sculpture):

I didn't overlap with Marion's time in the Department for very long. Maybe just a semester or two. What I remember, though, is how much positivity he brought to discussions about student work. He was open to giving all students who had the drive a chance to explore their potential. Those who stood in their way, he labeled, "Philistines".  I admire Marion's glee in being outspoken and definite.

David Hoppe (Professor Emeritus, painting and drawing):

I use to marvel at how Marion could work in the studio with all the solvent and oil base inks and still be dressed so sharp neat and clean! He was also happy and ready to help the students.

Dolores Mitchell (Professor Emerita, art history):

Marion Epting was noted for listening to his students. When one of his classes ended he was the last to leave. He kept his office door open to students and encouraged them to do most of the talking. He gave students the gift of his time and understanding. He took them seriously. 

Catherine Sullivan (Curator Emerita, Janet Turner Print Museum):

I came in 1968 as an art studio major in printmaking and sculpture in addition to my major in art history. Marion Epting, in his pristine white lab coat, introduced me to the seductive processes of printmaking while reinforcing art needed to say something about yourself.

As an art historian and Curator and Head of Archive, Janet Turner Print Museum, CSU, Chico I had the opportunity to better know, through curating his prints, how his aesthetic resonated in both his teaching and his works.

I don’t think Chico realized his arrival here was an important legacy moment as part of Black American artists. As a student of Charles White (1918-1979) at Southern California’s Otis Art Institute, Epting became one of LA’s young notable artists in late 1960’s as he moved to Chico. He epitomized what many of White’s students such as Kerry James Marshall and Judith Hernandez identify as finding content in your life, the necessity of your own voice and responding to social conditions.

What became evident to me in curating his body of work in the Turner Print Collection, thanks to the foresight of Janet Turner, was how his work and teaching epitomized his internalization of White’s influences. Epting’s prints demonstrate an artist should know things, an artist should continue to be an intellectual involved in history with an interest in wide ranging pursuits in math, music, the social condition as filtered through a personal aesthetic and a spiritual path.

We are enriched that Marion Epting’s legacy has brought us a part of Black American art, a place in the Black artists printmaking tradition, and has also made us part of the history of Black artists educators.

Susie Champion (Artist, former student, and current Janet Turner Print Museum Advisory Board Member):

Dear Marion,
I first met you as an undergrad student. We were both new to Chico! Little did I realize that this was the beginning of an instructive, creative, and productive relationship that would cover and influence my future as a printmaker.
Marion, you had a quiet presence that supported a student’s learning. You opened up innovation of techniques and exploration that helped development of personal style all with an endearing smile!

You always asked, “How are you doing?”, “Show me what your doing.”, Well, you won’t do that again!”

You were very aware of each students intuitive expression through line or volume.\

You encourage and would ask us to share our experiments in technique with others in critiques- pushing us to “share” our success or failure as we judged it.
You encouraged us with humor. You prodded all of us towards the cliff of trial and error. This became a path to flight from fear of failure.

Marion, you gave me a strong foundation to try aspics of printmaking I was not comfortable with at all! This led to the surprise of not being afraid to explore and the resulting development of a true personal style that I own confidently.
Marion, your influence culminated with my Masters Show years later and the aquatint prints created and shown.

Marion, you also introduced me to great jazz which you played during class.

Marion, I haven’t stopped listening since!

Thank you so very much!

With deep affection,
Susie Champion 

Paula Busch (Artist, former student, and current President of the Janet Turner Print Museum Advisory Board of Directors):

Small in stature warm in heart, that is Marion Epting. I had Marion as a grad student while taking intaglio classes at CSUC. Unlike many former male art instructors that I had experienced, Marion had no gender bias what so ever. He was patient, always a smile on his face and wearing that ubiquitous printmaking apron that never seemed to get dirty. He was impeccably dressed under that apron down to his stylish shoes. He had a strong preference for design and that would emerge in his critiques. He had a quiet presence and a sly sense of humor. He played the Clarinet too, which was my childhood instrument.

Michael Halldorson (Artist, former student, and Advisory Board Member of the Janet Turner Print Museum):

Some of Marion’s best sayings, which were very freeing for me:

“Kill the Artist”

“Only God is perfect”

Marion is the consummate printmaker, a professional

His work is in many collections – including mine!

When you see an Epting print – you know

My life is richer for my association with Marion

Thank you Marion Austin Epting, my friend

Marion and Mike

Marion Epting with former student Michael Halldorson (2019)