Category Archives: SVSU

Author Profile: Anne-Marie Oomen

Michigan author Anne-Marie Oomen visited Saginaw Valley State University
and the surrounding area in April.

Anne-Marie Oomen

I am ashamed to admit it, but I have yet to fully read one of Anne-Marie Oomen’s memoirs or books of poetry, even though I own two of her books (signed) and have attended a couple of her writing sessions (one for teachers and other, this past spring, open to the general public), as well as a reading from her latest book, As Long As I Know You:  The Mom Book.  I’ve only read and heard snippets of her work … so far.

What I’ve read and heard thus far is wonderful, and knowing the topics/subjects/genre included in many of her books, I know that I will love them.  How could I not purchase a book titled Love, Sex, and 4-H?  Then there is As Long As I Know You:  The Mom Book.  I can’t wait to read it.  The passages that she read during her author event, along with the anecdotes she shared about herself, her mom, and writing the book, definitely left me hooked.

What I really want to discuss today is her capacity as a teacher.  Just over a month prior to the shutdown orders signaling the official start of the pandemic, I had the opportunity to attend a day-long writing program aimed at teachers.  Titled “Homecoming:  Coming Home,” it was sponsored by the Saginaw Bay Writing Project.  Anne-Marie Oomen happened to be one of the presenters that morning.

During her allotted time, she taught us the term ekphrasis – a method of using different works of art to create various forms of writing, whether poetry, personal essay, or short story.  Imagine studying a painting and then creating a poem from your experience.  That is ekphrasis.

After explaining the process and providing us with examples of her own work, Anne-Marie Oomen had us create our own art inspired piece.  She brought with her a large collection of postcards.  I chose one with a portrait of Annie Oakley on the front, “little sure-shot.”  I enjoyed the experience and still have a digital copy of her presentation from that day.  I left realizing that I could easily create vision boards on Pinterest to gather my thoughts and ideas for various writing projects.

Anne-Marie Oomen used the painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper
to demonstrate the process of ekphrasis.

As wonderful as that experience was, a few months ago I learned that Anne-Marie Oomen was to be a guest scholar at Saginaw Valley State University.  During that time, she conducted a similar writing session open to the general public at the Marshall Fredericks Museum on SVSU’s campus.  I am so glad that I attended.  It made me look at one of my favorite museums in an entirely different light.  I left with a notebook full of ideas and even a rough draft.  The following evening, Anne-Marie Oomen held a reading at the Wirt Public Library in Bay City, sharing snippets from As Long As I Know You:  The Mom Book.  I’m so glad that I attended as I brought back so many memories of the short few months I had living with Grandma Reid before she needed more care than I could provide.  It is never easy watching someone you love age and decline.

I took something away from each of Anne-Marie Oomen’s events.  On top of sharing her love and knowledge of writing, she is a wonderful teacher.  Better yet … she is a Michigan author willing to help aspiring writers and teachers.

Anne-Marie Oomen’s latest book As Long as I Know You: The Mom Book details her experience dealing with her relationship with aging mother.

Every New Beginning …

Well, how can I fully explain last week?  Last Thursday, I took my last final exam ever – unless, of course, someone wants to pay for a graduate degree program or PhD.  Frankly, it is amazing.  I attended Michigan State from 1999-2004 – and then Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University to obtain my teaching certificate (2014-2016).  When I started my teaching career, I almost immediately decided that I wanted to add an English endorsement to my social studies and Spanish secondary endorsements.  Back to school I went from 2019, class by class and in the middle of a pandemic, until last week.  I am done.  Now that my grade is finalized, I will finally be able to add the English endorsement (secondary) to my teaching certificate.  In fact, I already applied to have it added.

So, what’s next?  Well, after this summer, I am not entirely sure.  We will see where things take me come fall.  I have several ideas.  For now, I am in the midst of getting the canoe livery ready for the summer.  Starting May 15th, I will be working there full-time once again.  I’ve actually been taking reservations at home all winter.  People are eager to get out on the river!  As I say so many times, we have the best customers.  I love thinking about how many memories have been made at our campgrounds and on the RIfle River over the decades.

RIght now, I couldn’t be in a better place.  I wrapped up so many loose ends over the last academic year and did exactly what I set out to do.  I have so many great options in front of me.  I finally feel ready to move on.  Stay tuned!

Marshall Fredericks Museum @ Saginaw Valley State University

“The Man on the Cross” mold on display at the Marshall Fredericks Museum at Saginaw Valley State University. The original sculpture resides at the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Michigan.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Russell

The Marshall Fredericks Museum at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) is one of my favorite museums.  Considering its size, it is jam packed.  Over the years, I’ve visited the museum a handful of times, and I always leave inspired.  There is so much to see, and frankly, it is impressive to see the results of such a long and varied career in sculpture.  At one time, Grandma B. and I talked about the museum, and she said that she always wanted to visit.  Unfortunately, she never took the opportunity.  I can’t help but think of her every time I am there.

One of my favorite Marshall Fredericks sculptures is “The Man on the Cross,” which resides at the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Michigan.  I’ve seen it in person (the full-size mold resides in the art gallery at SVSU, see below), and it is something that one needs to experience in person.  I plan to go back at some point.  It is gorgeous and moving.

As I left class today (I’m currently finishing my English endorsement at SVSU), I decided to head over the museum.  It did not disappoint.  Following is a quick overview of different sections of the museum.

Main Gallery

The main gallery includes the original molds for many of Marshall Fredericks’ larger works, including “The Man on the Cross” (see photo below), interspersed with smaller models in various mediums.  All are on permanent display and make up the core of the museum.

The molds for the “Sinners and Saints” sculpture. The original resides in the Sinners and Saints lounge at the nearby Midland Center for the Arts.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Russell
Marshall Fredericks also sculptured many animals throughout his career. This frog is one of my favorites.
I believe the original ended up in a children’s garden.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Russell

The Studio

The museum has taken great care to replicate parts of Marshall Fredericks’ studio.  It is impressive, and frankly, there is something about this part of the museum that fascinates me.  You get to understand how he created such large sculptures and the work involved, including tools and studies.  It actually inspired me to write a post on Scrivener and the idea of a writer’s studio, which can be found here.

Display helping to recreate Marshall Fredericks’ studio. Photo Credit: Lindsey Russell
Another view of the studio. Photo Credit: Lindsey Russell

The Sculpture Garden

It is just a beautiful outdoor space with all kinds of bronze sculptures inspired by Marshall Fredericks’ work.  You can find other images of the sculpture garden here.

The “Night and Day” fountain that is the center piece of the sculpture garden.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Russell
Mowgli and Baloo in the sculpture garden.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Russell

A visit to the museum is certainly worth it.  In addition to the sections described above, there are also a couple of smaller galleries in the museum that hold rotating exhibitions.  You can find more information on the museum’s website.