When children leave home either to attend college or embark on their next big thing, many stay at home mothers suddenly find themselves wondering what’s next for them. For Marianne Jennings of Mountainside, the decision to pursue a Masters of Arts diploma was inspired largely by her daughter Alaina, right about the time she was departing for Boston College.

“When my daughter left to pursue her own undergraduate program, she told me, “Mom, now you need to find something to do,” said Mrs. Jennings. 

“I always wanted to go back to school, but when my kids were still at home, I wanted to be available to them for help with homework. Once my kids left, and I was the one in school, suddenly it was my daughter who was checking my essays!”

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But the most enjoyable part, naturally for a fine arts major, lies in the creation, and Mrs. Jennings soon found her favorite class – Metal Shop. Under the tutelage of Professor Jennifer Crupi, whose works are part of a permanent collection at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Mrs. Jennings, who is originally from Cranford, will be graduating in May and will exhibit her art at Kean University at the James Howe Gallery, Vaughn Eames Building.

Mrs. Jennings' wearable art collection entitled “Nature’s Poison”  was inspired by the unusual combination of her affinity for watching true life crime dramas on the ID channel, coupled with the beauty of nature -- and the unsuspecting culprits of some poisonous plants that wreak havoc with the human body.  

“Using saws, blades, wires, hammers, torches and other tools of the metal smith trade, I have melded my fascination surrounding unsolved murders and mysterious deaths with the organic and natural beauty of flora.”

“The pieces I have created flow effortlessly on the body and are beautiful in form, yet exemplify the painful (and often fatal) results of the disruptive nature of the plants themselves,” said Mrs. Jennings.

Master Seminar – The Exhibition, kicks off with  an opening reception on April 15 at the James Howe Gallery, Vaughn Eames Building at Kean University and runs through mid-May. All are invited to attend.

Examples of Mrs. Jennings works can be found at mariannejenningsstudio.com.