Marstin Hodgin, Miami University and Landscape Art

Oxford and the Miami University campus are rich in imagery. A seminal figure in capturing the area’s iconic images was the landscape artist Marston Hodgin (1903-2003). Along with Edwin Fulwider, a Miami colleague and fellow artist, they painted familiar buildings and scenes in the region for nearly forty years. Together, they left an impressive body of mid-20th century work.

Hodgin’s artistic career spanned seven decades. Born a Quaker in Cambridge, Ohio, Hodgin graduated from Earlham College. One of his first art exhibits was in Provincetown, Massachusetts where Hodgin studied and attended classes.

In 1927, Hodgin was appointed artist-in-residence at Miami; later he established the Department of Art through the support of a Carnegie grant.

Hodgin at the easelFor Hodgin, “art represented a harmonious interpretation of the physical and spiritual phenomena.” He followed this approach while teaching art history, drawing and painting at Miami.

Following retirement from Miami in 1963, Hodgin and his wife Lucy resided in North Truro, Massachusetts. There he attained considerable acclaim for his watercolors of Lower Cape Cod.

About the Painting

Marston Hodgin painting of Hueston WoodsAccording to Molly Lampert, the work may depict Hueston Woods. It is signed on the back, “Marston Hodgin 1937” Cal Conrad, a long-time Oxford resident, believes the view may be looking east across the valley where the Maple Sugar shack is located today. Most likely, the scene was painted in late winter 1937 (February-March) or early winter 1937-1938 (Nov-Dec). January 1937 was unusually mild with no snow but instead brought nearly 15 inches of rain to the region. What resulted was the Ohio River Flood of 1937.

Molly Ann Shera Lampert is descended from one of Oxford Township’s pioneer families. Since Molly’s childhood, the painting has been owned by the family. The Hodgins and Sheras were close friends, and their children grew up together, attending McGuffey School. Molly and Tony Hodgin graduated together in the last class to attend McGufey High School.

For Molly, the painting evokes beautiful memories of a remote entrance to Hueston Woods, at a time of year and on a day when a person could feel like the only person who ever saw that scene. The melting snow suggests the finishing of something.

Hodgin in his later years, circa 1993But the path which leads the eye to a beautiful blue hillside elicits hope and expectation for a good experience. Molly says, "Sometimes when I looked at the painting, I felt like I was the only person who ever saw that secret entrance to Hueston Woods. Perhaps I was on a Girl Scout hike, or perhaps, as a young adult, I had driven to the woods to work on a problem. The painting hung in our living room, and was an organic part of our family life. It was shrouded in cigar and cigarette smoke at times, or brightened with laughter. To me, the painting is an echo of Oxford and Hueston Woods in a simpler time...a time of family life in the Mile Square and on the Miami campus. I hope the people who enjoy this painting can get a small snapshot of life in Oxford Township, which was a place where nature was right down the road, and one could work out one's small journeys in peace and beauty."

McGuffey Museum is grateful to Molly Ann Shera Lampert for her generous donation.