Worker Shines in Eliot Art Show

Those who frequent the Eliot House dining hall may know Marina Gerolimatas as the woman who swipes IDs. But she is also an artist, and yesterday, Gerolimatas unveiled an exhibition of her paintings that will be displayed in the Eliot House small dining room until spring break.

Eliot House Master Lino Pertile said he first became acquainted with the 23-year employee’s work when, following another exhibition by a resident tutor, Gerolimatas mentioned her own interest in painting.

Pertile requested a sample and said he was so impressed that he spent five weeks organizing the exhibition, which he said represents a bridge between two generally distinct communities at Harvard.

“I’m delighted that this could be a departure towards a better integration of staff and faculty, demonstrating that art is not the exclusive domain of the learned and cultivated,” Pertile said.

For the exhibition, Gerolimatas said she chose a representative sampling of her work. The paintings address primarily classical themes, including religious imagery and depictions of her native Greece.

But Gerolimatas said she also paints still-lifes and landscapes and said she is particularly proud of her portraits of her parents—a portrait of her mother was, in fact, her first painting.

“After my mother’s death, I had so many feelings that I wanted to express,” Gerolimatas said while holding back tears.

When she began painting, Gerolimatas said she discovered that she was surprisingly skilled.

“My mother, my father, and God brought me into this world with the talent to paint, and without anybody teaching me,” she said.

Yesterday, many of Gerolimatas’ friends, relatives and co-workers, along with some 30 students from Eliot House, were present to support Gerolimatas and to enjoy her work.

The students, who Gerolimatas refers to as “her babies,” praised her ability to balance her job with her committment to art.

“She’s here all day, everyday,” Michael J. Palmer, ‘03 said. “I don’t know when she has time to do this. It’s really excellent.”

Gerolimatas said she paints “in the spare time of her spare time.”

Karen Fischer, Gerolimatas’ English tutor, said the show reflects that “people in all sorts of jobs around Harvard have interesting skills that aren’t necessarily used in their jobs.”

Gerolimatas said she was “surprised and excited” by the positive turnout, and hopes that the show will be a springboard to further artistic opportunities.

“I’m going to do so many good things,” she said. “I don’t want to say yet.”