URI graduate creates cover art for Newsweek’s special edition about Women’s March

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Narya Marcille and her husband, Tom Gruczka, and their children.
Narya Marcille and her husband, Tom Gruczka, and their children, Micah, 4, and Jack. Photo courtesy of Narya Marcille.

KINGSTON, R.I., Jan. 3, 2018—When Newsweek’s anniversary edition of the Women’s March comes out this month, look for Narya Marcille’s pink sky and strong-willed women on the cover.

Marcille’s iconic images first appeared in a poster she designed for the demonstration in Washington last year and now they’re back—on an even bigger stage.

The University of Rhode Island alumna created the cover art for the magazine’s special edition, which is scheduled to hit newsstands Jan. 23.

“I’m thrilled, but still in shock,” says Marcille. “It’s kind of surreal. Who knows what this will lead to?”

Worldwide recognition, for one. About 500,000 copies will be printed in the United States and Canada, and some of those copies will probably end up on coffee tables in Europe and elsewhere overseas.

Narya Marcille holding her poster
Narya Marcille holding her Women’s March on Washington poster at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Narya Marcille.

Marcille welcomes the attention and any opportunities the exposure could bring: “This is the first time I’ve felt like I can just be an artist. I’m excited.”

It wasn’t always easy. After graduating from URI with a bachelor of fine arts in 2005, she worked as a bartender, advertising coordinator and jewelry store clerk to pay bills. Art was something she did in her spare time.

After marrying Tom Gruczka, a 2004 URI graduate, she decided to stay home in North Smithfield with her children, Micah, now 4, and Jack, now 1, while Gruczka worked as a physical education teacher in nearby Smithfield. When she could, she freelanced as a graphic designer.

Last January, she reluctantly passed on an opportunity to join the women’s demonstration Jan. 20 in the nation’s capital, where thousands of women turned out to advocate for women’s rights, immigration reform, racial equality and LGBTQ rights.

Deciding that the trip would be too difficult with a newborn and toddler, Marcille channeled her political energy into a poster, which, on a whim, she posted on the Hillary Clinton-inspired Pantsuit Nation Facebook page. The response was overwhelming. The poster received 90,000 hits and more than 3,000 comments.

“I was blown away,” says Marcille. “Happily blown away.”

Marcille set up an Etsy page https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloomingAnchor?ref=s2-header-shopname) with digital downloads of the poster, and also put the design on her Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/narya.marcille.art). Art editors and curators took notice, as well as a Supreme Court Justice.

First, there was the call last April from Katherine Blood, curator of fine prints at the Library of Congress, who asked Marcille to donate a print to the library’s poster and fine art print collection. You bet, said Marcille, who made a trip to Washington to view the collection and relish her place in history.

Then, Marcille sent her poster to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who is depicted in the poster, along with Clinton, an African-American woman wearing a gay pride pin, an Asian woman, and a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.

Justice Ginsberg’s April 14, 2017 thank-you note on Supreme Court of the United States stationery was hand-written: “Dear Narya, A thousand thanks for the poster you created. It will be framed and displayed in chambers for all who visit me to see. With appreciation for your artistry, and every good wish, J. R. Bader Ginsberg.”

As if that weren’t thrilling enough, a few days before Christmas Marcille received a comment on her Facebook page from a man praising her work, with an unexpected offer: “We’d love to commission some cover art.” His name was Steven Charny, art director for Topix Media, which publishes Newsweek’s special editions.

Marcille thought it was a hoax, what with all the fake social media postings out there. She did some research, and discovered that, yes, an internationally-renowned magazine was wooing her after all. Editor and artist soon settled on an idea, and Marcille got to work, sketching, designing and re-designing for a walloping 90 hours, including an 18-hour all-nighter that started at 1 p.m. Christmas day and ended the next morning at 7. “It was intense,” she says, “then I took a nice nap.”

Marcille is mum on the Adobe Illustrator design for Newsweek, except to say that it consists of her tempestuous pink sky (“a feminist color”) and illustrations of five women, “who I am not at liberty to reveal.” Her fans will have to wait a few more weeks to find out.

“I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was a little girl,” says Marcille. “You grow up with people telling you to be practical, get a real job, something not in art. So it’s wonderful to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do, and make a living. Pinch me.”