No. Smithfield woman designs cover artwork for Newsweek

No. Smithfield woman designs cover artwork for Newsweek

Narya Marcille holds up a copy of “Newsweek,” featuring her cover illustration, at a Whole Foods in Rhode Island. (Photo courtesy of Narya Marcille)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Narya Marcille stands by her opinions. “Too many people say ‘I’m not interested in politics’ or ‘It’s not my problem.’ It’s not your problem until it becomes your problem, and there’s no one else left to stand up and fight for you.”

Sticking up for others is second nature to Marcille, a 35-year-old North Smithfield resident. She was raised by a “feminist father” who has five sisters. “He never made me believe that I couldn’t be anything I wanted to be and that I was ever anything but worthy,” she says. “He made me believe in myself.”

The University of Rhode Island graduate, who received a bachelor of fine arts degree, has now landed in the national spotlight with her design of a cover for Newsweek magazine. About 500,000 copies of the Newsweek special edition “She Persisted: Moments of Courage, Strength and Rebellion in the Fight for Feminism” recently hit newsstands nationwide.

The roots for this project go back to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., in January 2017.

It was with regret that Marcille could not make it to the march with other members of her family, because her youngest child was just 4 months old at the time. Marcille and her husband, Tom Gruczka, a 2004 URI grad, have two sons, ages 1 and 4. After working in advertising and as a bartender to make ends meet, she made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom and freelance as a graphic designer after her children were born.

“My aunt suggested I create something they carry” at the Women’s March, since she couldn’t be there, she says. She created artwork for a poster, and she posted her illustration on the Hillary Clinton-inspired Pantsuit Nation Facebook page. The artwork now hangs in the Library of Congress as a part of the permanent poster and fine art collection.

The illustration features Hillary Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, an African American woman wearing a gay pride pin, an Asian woman, and a Muslim woman. “Originally it was just going to be five random women, and then I thought about it and I was like, well, who is inspiring me right now.”

It was a hit, with 3,000 comments.

“Of course, Hillary Clinton – she has faced so much abuse and she keeps coming back. The woman is made of steel. There are very few people, men or women, who could put up with what she has and still come back again.”

Marcille sent the poster to Justice Ginsberg, who replied with a handwritten note. “She is going to have it framed and displayed in her chambers, so that is super exciting,” Marcille says.

The poster caught the eye of Steven Charny, art director for Topix Media, which publishes the special editions for Newsweek. He reached out to ask if she’d like to design a cover for “She Persisted: Moments of Courage, Strength and Rebellion in the Fight for Feminism.” Marcille agreed.

Among the women depicted are Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani education and women’s rights advocate, who, at the age of 17, became the youngest person to win the Nobel Prize after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban.

“There’s always been badass women, but to be frank, they’ve been silenced by other women,” Marcille says.

She did get some negative feedback on her artwork. “I had some online trolls. For the most part, I just chose to ignore them.”

Marcille is currently working on her next project, which is likely to receive as much attention. She hopes to create a piece for the Amplifier Foundation, a nonprofit group that encourages collaboration among artists and politics. “‘Power to the Polls’ is a traveling art show that will focus on swing states,” she says. “It’s open to any woman or person that identifies as female, which is a really great thing for this foundation to focus on – female artists.”

Her piece will showcase what she calls the new suffragette movement. It features Danica Roem, the first openly transgender woman to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates; Kamala Harris, an American politician and lawyer for the Democratic Party; and Carmin Yulin Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico.

“I want to help women in any way I can,” says Marcille. Even if that means, she says, creating art that is not embraced by all.

“If you’re true to yourself and you’re true to what you believe, it really doesn’t matter that you’re upsetting others because they’re going to be upset one way or the other,” she says. “As I get older, I worry less about offending people. My goal is to be good to people. If some people don’t like who I choose to be good to, then they are probably not my people.”

Marcille appreciates that more women are speaking out about feminism and other important social justice issues. “Speak up and speak your truth,” she says. “Go for it, and we will be there to back you up. Be true to yourself, and true to what you believe.”

Emily Levine, a University of Rhode Island junior majoring in journalism, contributed this story.