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Work Samples

"Travel by Haiku"

December 2020, Acrylic on Tyvek Paper. Made for Marshall James Kavanaugh, a traveling poet

The Woods at Night

Poem, 2020

Hunt and Gather (Clip)

2018, Marian McLaughlin Ensemble at the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage


About Marian

Baltimore City

Marian McLaughlin's picture
Marian McLaughlin is a multi-instrumental songwriter, poet, visual artist, and educator. Her immersive walks in the woods are full of observational moments that lead to meditative reflections in her music, poetry, and art. Guided by intuition while honoring imagination, her music embodies a peaceful atmosphere, pairing arpeggiated fingerpicking with contemplative lyrics. Starting with a stream-of-consciousness approach, her songs and poems develop body and structure while exploring aspects of wordplay... more

Selected Crankies

What is a Crankie? Crankies are visual & kinetic narratives. These stories are illustrated on long, rotating scrolls. Learn more from the Crankie Factory and enjoy some of my crankies that are presented here.

  • "Travel by Haiku"

    December 2020, Acrylic on Tyvek Paper. Made for Marshall James Kavanaugh, a traveling poet
  • Blacksburg Crankie

    January 2020, Acrylic on Tyvek Paper. This crankie story highlights a creative community pottery project that took place in Blacksburg, Virginia in August 2019.
  • For Nana

    May 2019, Acrylic on Tyvek Paper.
  • Kavanaugh Crankie

    December 2020, Acrylic on Tyvek Paper. Commissioned as a Christmas gift.
  • A Holy Underground Crankie Flier

    May 2018, Ink and marker on paper.
  • Angela's Birthday

    January 2021, Acrylic on Tyvek Paper. Commissioned as a birthday gift.

Lake Accotink - Third Studio Album

Lake Accotink is an environmental song cycle about humanity’s multifaceted relationship with nature. Overwhelmed by ongoing ecological issues, Marian began working on Lake Accotink as a way to to process the effects of progress. Throughout this lyrical journey, she observes humankind’s gradual impact on the environment, acknowledges the ebb and flow of natural cycles, celebrates existence of all life forms, and meditates on impermanence. Even when facing challenging concepts such as land fragmentation, plastic buildup in our oceans, and climate change, she makes sure to continuously set positive intentions for a hopeful future.

Marian's stream-of-consciousness storytelling acts as an anchor for Lake Accotink. The album leans heavily toward a chamber folk genre and features a rotating cast of ensemble members, such as a wind trio and a string quartet. Lake Accotink explores other musical directions, from experimental rock to sampling field recordings. Marian also pushes her own musicianship on this album by playing piano, harp, drums, and synth on top of singing and playing guitar. In a live context, Marian works with musicians that she really admires to creative intimate and innovative performances.

  • Lake Accotink Album Cover

    Album cover designed and drawn by Marian McLaughlin, September 2018. Materials - markers, pen, collaged photo
  • Cypress

    "Cypress, I spied you siphoning water from the creek. First things first, I can decipher your thirst."
  • Grayson Highlands

    "When I'm in nature, I receive it's greatness and grace, so I will take care of this place and I will leave no trace at the Grayson Highlands, I'm just so grateful to be at the Grayson Highlands"
  • Of the Lake and Land

    Marian McLaughlin - voice, harpsicle Katie Weissman - cello
  • Studying Metamorphosis

    "This world was designed to divide and confine, but I confide in the divine, outside. In nature, there's an absolute truth. It cannot be removed. But in order to engage we must change our behavior."
  • Mums and Marigolds

    "How they coincide is seasonal, strung in the locks of the ebb and flow.Everything is impermanent and connected."

Hummingbird Theater - Community Art Events

For the past decade, I have organized and curated community art events. I have helped produce a wide range of happenings from music concerts, art exhibits, poetry readings, puppet shows, pop-up theater viewings, facilitated discussions, and most recently, my first lantern parade.

From 2014-2019, I helped run events out of the Holy Underground, an arts collective in the Station North Arts District.

During the pandemic, I launched Hummingbird Theater and hosted a number of community events that followed CDC guidelines. I wanted to use my organizational skills and my curational background to bring live art events to small groups of people to support artists as well as spread collective joy during a challening period. I began by hosting concerts through the Creative Alliance's Sidewalk Serenades, and then I branched out to host my own series called Parkside Concerts. Musicians performed on the top of a slope overlooking Herring Run. Through these two series I hosted Chinese dulcimer player Chao Tian; Rapper and performance artist Jamal "Black Root" Collier; Baltimore Bluesman Quinton Randall; Duo Dyad, a guitar and mandolin outfit; and accordionist Simone Barron.
I also invited artists with other creative backgrounds to perform, such as Crankie and Shadow Puppet artist Katherine Fahey and poet and visual artist Dan Van Allen.

As we approached the winter season, I organized a small lantern parade for my neighborhood to celebrate the winter solstice. It was a perfect activity for the pandemic as people in the procession were spaced out and observers could view from the comfort and safety of their home. We encouraged neighbors to make their own lanterns and received great feedback full of delight. One woman said it was a great activity to do at home with her four year old, as they could craft a lantern and then waited with anticipation for the parade. Another neighbor said they enjoyed watching the magic pass by as they were unable to do other activities between the pandemic and recovering from surgery. I am currently organizing three more parades in other neighborhoods to help spread the joy through art.

Holy Underground Arts Collective

From 2014-2019, I worked as a curator and host for the Holy Undergrounds Arts Collective in Station North. I helped facilitate various events such as music concerts, puppet shows, poetry readings, theatrical plays, performance artists, art exhbits, art residencies, workshops, and more.

I often brought in touring artists and paired them with local talent. Not only did I organize and host events, but I did promotional work of designing fliers and handling adminsitrative tasks leading up to events. I ran the door and collected donations while managing the soundboard to make sure performers were content with sound levels and comfortable with audio gear.

I am including this in my portfolio because running an art space and hosting events is a huge part of who I am as an artist. I enjoy bringing people together to witness the magic that stems from art happenings while experiencing collective joy.

Spirit House

Spirit House is a continuation of Marian McLaughlin's musical partnership with double bassist and arranger Ethan Foote. Their work together represents an adventurous and original endeavor in the meeting of experimental folk-rock, chamber music, and lyrical vision. Using McLaughlin's classical guitar work and lyrics as a foundation to a song, Foote adds a new dimension, conceiving instrumentation, texture, color, and other possibilities of sound.

A sailor's tie to the sea, the whimsical courtship of bowerbirds, heavier-than-air flight mechanics, a weary traveler's encounter with a will-o-the-wisp, and the downfall of wizards...this is just a glimpse of the rich imagery from Spirit House, a collection of ten lyrically-driven songs.

A statement from the artist on Spirit House:

Though these stories may be abstract and beyond my own narratives, they stem from somewhere within my psyche. They reside within me, I am their vessel, yet I view my songs as sacred spaces that I in turn step into, in the company of other musiicans. With Spirit House, I invite listeners on a journey through these intimate and ornate songs.

  • Even Magic Falters

    Lyrics: Sea salts and kundalini hope it’ll help me with my breathing. Did you know that Harry Houdini died in his sleep from internal bleeding? Well, the Master of Escape could not foresee his very last day due to his own delay he met his doom to our dismay. Merlin, from Arthurian legend told by the tongues and the tales of the peasants chose emotions first and potions second a choice he learnt from a horrid lesson When the Lady of the Lake entombed our wizard in a cave. Lust she took, trust she did break much to our wizard’s own mistake.
  • Alexander

    Lyrics: Standing on a jetty admiring waves and eddies that’s when I lost track of Alexander. Well it always seemed to be that he was on an Odyssey, full of curiosity how that child would meander. I tried to keep a watchful eye but he would always stray. I should of been more diligent more vigilant that day. They say a mother, she knows best, but I was never sure. I always second-guessed myself even when I felt the first stir from Alexander. That day it was as if the sea has cast some kind of spell. It called you in, much to my chagrin.
  • Calm Canary of the Arctic Sea

    Lyrics: A celebration! For a cetacean Calm canary of the Arctic Sea has learnt to speak, through imitation! Let us rejoice, a sentient thing has mimicked the voice of a human being. Calm canary of the Arctic Sea front and center of a media frenzy. The age-old question that leaves us restless and constantly, and constantly, and constantly guessing. And pushed man to endlessly seek for consciousness that’s beyond our reach Is, do you reckon? Is there life on Mars, or beyond the stars in this galaxy of ours?
  • Legend of the Neighborhood

    Lyrics: He was a legend of the neighborhood always walking his black dog around, and when I’d see him with his headphones on I’d call out “Aaron Brown! Aaron Brown, what’s going down?” Oh that boy be a walking but he’d stop and start talking to anyone who came around. In his camo jacket his music was a racket his headphones blared with sound. And in summer and spring he never thought such a thing of shoes he walked barefoot through town. Oh, that was our Aaron, that was our Aaron, that was our Aaron Brown.
  • Kapunkah

    Lyrics: Eating mangoes by the mangroves we dipped our toes into the Andaman sea. There was so much for both of us to see but we were rendered lazy by the heat. Like a water buffalo lying in a puddle of repose. Onward to our bungalows we noticed that below our bed there was a black and red spider. She made her web and built her nest, but I didn’t really mind her. For she was not dangerous, she’s just our neighbor. She’s not poisonous, just an acquaintance. But remember that King Cobra does exist on this island.
  • Spirit House artwork

    A collaboration between Marian McLaughlin and Viannry Paul
  • Spirit House album cover

    Designed by Marian McLaughlin

Marian's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.