Materson, Ray 1954-
MATERSON, Ray 1954-
Male. Born 1954 in Michigan; married, 1993; wife's name Melanie (an artist and musician); children: David, Savannah, John (stepson). Education: Grand Valley State College, Michigan, B.A. (philosophy).
Agent—c/o Workman Publishing Company, 708 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
Artist and drug counselor.
(Coauthor with Melanie Materson) Sins and Needles: A Story of Spiritual Mending, Algonquin Books (Chapel Hill, NC), 2002.
A classic "good boy gone bad," Ray Materson turned his life around in prison when he discovered a rather atypical talent for convicts: embroidery. Starting with the simplest of designs, Materson eventually perfected his technique, and today his miniatures fetch up to $4,000 at prestigious galleries. They also brought him a new family when a fan named Melanie began helping to promote them, then writing to Materson, and then marrying him in 1993, while he was still in prison. Today, the couple have three children, including Melanie's son John, and in Sins and Needles: A Story of Spiritual Mending Ray and Melanie Materson tell Ray's remarkable story of fall and redemption.
As a boy, Ray Materson was an good student with a desire to enter the priesthood, but a dysfunctional family and an addiction to drugs and alcohol led him into trouble culminating in 1988 with a fifteen-year prison sentence for armed robbery. Feeling hopeless, the incarcerated Materson was looking at a bleak Christmas that year but was slightly cheered by the news that the University of Michigan was going to the Rose Bowl. A Michigan native, Materson wanted to do something to show his support for the team. Remembering the pleasant hours his grandmother had spent embroidering, he used thread from his and a cellmate's socks to embroider a "Michigan M" in the maize-and-blue team colors. Worried that other inmates would look down on his hobby, Materson discovered instead that they were eager for logos of their own favorite teams, as well as for flags and emblems, and were willing to pay with the classic prison currency: cigarettes. From there, Materson began to embroider more elaborate scenes of prison, of everyday life, and even a complete series on the 1963 New York Yankee line-up that ultimately fetched $15,000 from a private collector. As he told Sports Illustrated reporter Amy Nutt, prison "saved his life by giving him the opportunity to become an artist. 'I believe we all have a drive to create.…If it's not nurtured, then the exact opposite happens: People learn to destroy, and sometimes they destroy themselves.'"
Eventually, Materson sent his pieces to a traveling folk art show, and then began submitting to galleries. There, his work was spotted by Melanie. Impressed, she began writing to Ray and offered to represent him at craft shows. Soon she gained him national attention at prestigious art galleries, including New York's Museum of Contemporary Art; eventually, the two developed a friendship, which led to their marriage in 1993, two years before Ray was paroled. In addition to his artwork, Ray Materson works as a drug counselor, helping people avoid his mistakes. In Sins and Needles he tells, "compellingly and with winning simplicity, an inspiring and touching story of the transformative power of art," in the words of Booklist reviewer June Sawyers.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2002, June Sawyers, review of Sins and Needles: A Story of Spiritual Mending, p. 1897.
People, October 28, 2002, review of Sins and Needles, p. 98.
Sports Illustrated, October 17, 1994, Amy Nutt, "A Stitch in Time," p. 7.*
"Materson, Ray 1954-." Contemporary Authors. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 18, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/materson-ray-1954
"Materson, Ray 1954-." Contemporary Authors. . Retrieved March 18, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/materson-ray-1954
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.