Born in St Catharine’s, Ontario, McAvoy studied at the University of Guelph before completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
For many years, Marilyn’s work was inspired by floral imagery inspired by Dutch Flower Painting and the cultivation of her own gardens.
In the early 1990’s she began working on film productions. Visual elements found on discarded scenic staging became a new component in her work. Flower painting and these collage elements remained a key compositional strategy for many years.
McAvoy’s “Film” work concluded with the position of "stand-by” painter for Jame’s Cameron’s “Titanic” movie shot in both Nova Scotia and Mexico. During the shoot she had to recreated the “Famous” paintings featured in the movie and found herself with a cameo role as the Lab Technician who washes off the drawing of “Rose” found in the safe.
Mexico later became a place of particular importance and inspiration for her work while living in the famed Artist community of San Miguel de Allende.
McAvoy’s “Figure Painting” was initially informed and fuelled by years of being part of the Halifax music scene. Visions for this work were created with the construction of a small studio stage. Here, props, digital projections of music halls and stage lights could be the backdrop for her “models” who were friends she shared these music times with.
McAvoy’s most recent figure paintings continue to marry figure with projections, but now each stage is informed by individual stories of identity, strength, resilience.
Marilyn has been the recipient of Canada Council and Nova Scotia Art Grants. A finalist in the 2003 RBC New Canadian Painting Competition, McAvoy has exhibited in galleries across Canada and the United States.