NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Local artist, Mary Jean Canziani, recently returned after her two week exhibition in Venice Italy at The Scuola Grande di San Teodoro Opera House. Built in 1580, it has been adorned with great art for over 400 years. It was the perfect backdrop for her show titled “Re-Covered Books” featuring her signature paintings on book covers.

Art lovers from all over the world stopped in to admire and purchase her work. Using the covers of vintage books as her canvas and the titles of the books as her inspiration, Mary Jean creates thought-provoking paintings around social issues that are clamoring for action. Mary Jean said, “With technology, a new way of life has emerged at an astonishing speed. While many remarkable improvements are taking place, I feel we are plowing full speed ahead without considering what is at risk of being lost. I use books to symbolize the change occurring in the world today. To many people, books are sacred and evoke a warm, nostalgic feeling. They are a reminder of times past. The devoted and contemplative act of reading is losing its meaning in today's fast paced world, along with other human endeavors that require thought and care. Are we evolved enough to handle our own creations?”

New Providence is lucky to have Mary Jean, now of international acclaim, as the instructor of the Studio Art Workshop class for adults offered weekly at the New Providence Recreation Center. In a relaxing, fun and creative environment, she coaches students with all levels of expertise on drawing and painting to express their own unique interests. She is liked and admired so much by her students that three of them went to Venice to help with her exhibition.

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Mary Jean also offers classes regularly at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit and serves on our New Providence Public Art Committee (NPAA). The exhibit was well attended by people from all over the world. As Mary Jean said, “It’s hard to fully convey the warm connections I made in Venice with people from all over the world. We might never meet again but I love knowing that my art had some effect on them.” 

Mary Jean continues to make her impact right here in our community. You can see one of her amazingly creative and thought-provoking art pieces above. This mural, composed of 70 “re-covered books,” is based on the Icarus Myth but with the possibility of a different outcome. Rather than plunging into the sea, it represents the hope that Icarus will be caught in time to survive. One way for Mary Jean to make us ponder “will humanity learn from its mistake and adopt the changes necessary for its future survival?”

You can view and inquire about purchasing her Re-Covered Books and other of her unique art creations on her Website: https:// Also, don’t miss her next exhibit at The Book House, 281 Essex St., Millburn during the month of December.