Marylin M. (Martin) Rhie

February 3, 1937 ~ January 26, 2020 (age 82)


Marylin (Martin) Rhie, 82, died peacefully on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, surrounded by her family, from the long-term effects of a pneumonectomy performed in 1959. Born in Washington, DC to the late Elva (Eastman) Martin and Dean Woodmansee Martin, she has lived in Wilbraham since 1972.


After receiving her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in the History of Chinese Art, she and her husband moved to western Massachusetts where she taught courses in Asian art history at Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, UMass–Amherst, and Harvard University until she transitioned to teaching at Smith College. In 2016, Marylin Rhie, Jesse Wells Post Professor of Art and Professor of East Asian Studies, retired after a pioneering and illustrious career. Her main area of research was in Buddhist art of China and Tibet, but she also was a leader in promoting the study of interrelationships among the Buddhist art of India, Central Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. She published numerous books and articles and co-curated the exhibition Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, which toured to eleven international venues during the 1990s. Most recently she wrote the multi-volume series Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia, which presents a comprehensive, detailed study of the earliest Buddhist art in Central and East Asia from the first to the mid-fifth century CE.


Marylin was an accomplished painter, having attended the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She also enjoyed playing the piano, knitting, sewing, and gardening. From the 1960s to 1990s, she and her husband and daughter traveled extensively conducting fieldwork on Buddhist art at sites and collections worldwide.


Marylin is survived by her beloved husband Young Ho Rhie, Professor Emeritus at Springfield College, their daughter Sonya Rhie Mace, George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, and two grandchildren: Vita (18) and Gregory (13) Quintanilla. A private burial and memorial service will be held at the convenience of the family. Wilbraham Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. AT THE FAMILY'S REQUEST, PLEASE OMIT FLOWERS.

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