Riesing and Goldenstein: The inspiring journey of extraordinary artists

Susan EspirituFountain City

In an opportune twist of fate, destiny brought together Tom Riesing and Marcia Goldenstein from opposite sides of the country, setting the stage for an extraordinary life journey that continues to this day.

Tom and Marcia met while in college at the University of Nebraska department of art and stayed there for seven years earning both their BFA and MFA degrees. After graduate school, Tom moved to teach at the University of Tennessee School of Art while Marcia remained in Nebraska teaching for three years at the University of Nebraska and Doane College.

Once Marcia was hired at the University of Tennessee, she and Tom reconnected, eventually married and had their daughter and son. The couple taught painting and drawing at UT for over 30 years before Tom left for five years to become the director of the School of Art at Ball State University, prior to both retiring to continue their art practices in their Knoxville home studios.

That is a life summary, but the real story is hidden between the lines.

Who are Tom Riesing and Marcia Goldenstein? They were distinctive individuals before they became partners, and their profession has allowed them the opportunities to travel to exhibitions, to teach at other institutions, to participate in residencies and to meet other artists.

Tom has a unique story line: worked at one of the original McDonalds, did factory work, worked at horse racetracks and went to Nebraska on an athletic scholarship in gymnastics, competing in the finals of the NCAA gymnastics championship.

He Gong, professor and artist at Sichuan University, with Tom Riesing in China

Tom’s most memorable experiences however, were his 24 trips to China and seven trips to Poland as a visiting artist/professor/consultant. Tom was awarded a Visiting Professorship at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.

Tom’s lifelong friendship with He Gong, professor and artist at Sichuan University, created from his first meeting in 1995, led to significant artistic and academic engagement that has benefited many students, both Chinese and American.

Marcia worked as a telephone operator and as a sign painter for the University of Nebraska theatre.

Marcia has been to residencies in China and the UK and with Tom has spent time as well in Germany, France, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Costa Rica and across the US.

Marcia was taught how to embroider tea towels by her grandmother during summer vacations and that skill became important in a major body of work based on women artists and activists. The series of embroidered portraits has been exhibited around the US and in Poland, also becoming a self-published book including many of the works.

Marcia Goldenstein in front of her Contrail paintings at McGhee Tyson Airport

Marcia was the first woman to receive tenure in studio art at UTK, and was the recipient of the Lorayne Lester Award in addition to advising and outreach awards in the College of Arts and Science.

Both Tom and Marcia have been named Outstanding Alumni at the University of Nebraska Lied-Hixon College of Fine and Performing Art.

Their philosophy has played out in their lives: “It is important to learn to reinvent yourself periodically. We both believe it is important to embrace change as a strategy for success. Confronting resistance often means you’re bumping up against something interesting and unknown.”

They have done numerous artists’ workshops locally, nationally and internationally, conducting art projects in local and regional schools as well as working in their respective studios with the Knoxville Community School of the Arts as mentors to middle school students in the Side By Side program.

Marcia and Tom are particularly proud of their children who followed in art careers. Their daughter, Kat, is a painter/fiber artist who shows her work internationally and is represented by Asya Geisberg Gallery in NYC. She was a tenured professor at Alfred University in NY, but now lives with her husband in Tucson, Arizona, and works in the University of Arizona Honors College. Son Peter is a successful freelance graphic designer working locally and regionally.

Tom and Marcia are living their future plans by staying active as artists in the studio and through exhibitions, continuing to travel and enjoying the comfort of family and friends. See their work at marciagoldenstein.com and thomasriesing.com.

All of us have a story and I want to tell yours! Send them to susan@knoxtntoday.com


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *