May almost slipped by me but I squeezed in a day this week to interview a wonderful woman for my Fabulous Women Over 40 blog series. I am proud to introduce Mrs. Rita J. Maggart! She is an artist, a writer, a floral designer and a teacher who began volunteering her time 24 years ago as a teacher’s assistant at the Tennessee Prison for Women.
Rita Maggart grew up in Lebanon, Tennessee and graduated from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. She married her husband John Maggart who was in the military and lived in Germany for 5 years before settling in Nashville. Her early career was teaching 3rd grade in Metro Nashville Schools and preschool children in Montessori schools, she believes her inner strength resides through her faith and that is what inspires her to help others. Over the years she has found comfort expressing her feelings and thoughts in the pages of journals combined with sketching images of botanicals. In 1995 Rita did a work study in England under her mentor Sheila Macqueen, a renowned floral artist and designer known for her work with Britain’s royal family. Rita then started a floral design business in Nashville where she focused on events, home decor, and event coordination with botanicals. In 1996 she decided to use excerpts from her early journals to share with others which led to her book called “In The Growing Places,” which combines her inspirational poetry, thoughts and drawings showcasing her experience with floral arrangement instruction. Nashville singer/songwriter Angel Pontier has used the book for inspiration to write songs.
Rita’s love of art lured her to study oil painting with artist and instructor Gayle Levee of Nashville. She has also studied Visual Communications at Nashville State Community College with Pam Hawkins and is currently studying the art of abstract painting with Lisa Jennings of Nashville.
What I admire most about Rita and what makes her such a fabulous woman is her desire to help others. Women’s ministry is Rita’s play it forward space and she finds solace in working with groups of women where her encouragement helps them find their true internal God given gifts. She started volunteering at the Tennessee Prison for Women in 1991 after hearing speaker Emma Thompson mention they needed volunteer teachers. Rita offered her time teaching reading in the woman’s prison system for several hours each week. Later she would teach a creative class on art and journaling which eventually would lead to arts and craft classes. She felt strongly that the art was a meaningful way of therapy for the women and became very appreciated in the process. Today Rita helps coordinate a Pen Pal ministry connecting the women in prison with women in her church. This inspirational process helps them find strength, comfort, self love, confidence and inner peace. She has continued to stay in touch with several women over the years who are still in the prison system through letter writing.
Rita’s interest in life tends to center around communicating and creating. In 2005 she combined her interest in macro photography and oil painting with botanicals where she created bodies of work centered around sepia toned flowers. Using natural light and floral surroundings her work offers a beautiful fine art vision of floral arrangements. Animation artist Dave Turner AKA Digital Dave has turned her botanical photos into animation art and has made them come alive in a video montage found here.
Rita resides in Nashville tennessee with her husband John Maggart, they have 3 sons and 5 granddaughters. She has an artist studio at Harpeth Art Center & Gallery in Pegram and an upcoming Art Exhibit at the at Nashville Airport flying solo exhibition called “In Sight” which showcases 36 x 49 archival pigment prints this June, July and August in the Southwest Concourse “C.” She will be at Scarritt-Bennett November 19, 2015 with singer/songwriter Angel Pontier in a performance of poetry and music at the “Poet’s Corner.”
If you would like to know more about Rita you can visit her site here. She truly is a Fabulous Woman who has made a difference with her creative endeavors and sharing personality.
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s Fabulous Woman and will check back for Ms. June, stay tuned!
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