Mercedes-Benz Financial Services


Cranbrook Academ of Art announces 2020 MBFS Emerging Artist Award Finalists

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Bloomfield Hills, Mich., June 11, 2020 -– Cranbrook Academy of Art is pleased to announce the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Emerging Artist Award Finalists. This is the fifteenth year that Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has honored our graduating students, and this year they are celebrating the achievements of 10 Academy students, one from each department (with the exception of 4D Design, which is currently made up of first-year students).

The award recipients are:
Ben Cook (Architecture)
Madelaine Corbin (Fiber)
Caroline Del Guidice (Sculpture)
Brett Evans (Ceramics)
Laura Gibson (Photography)
Kaysi Grimes (Print Media)
Britt Gudas (2D Design)
Naama Levit (Metalsmithing)
Cody Norman (3D Design)
Natalie Wadlington (Painting)

The Emerging Artist Awards are part of Cranbrook’s almost 20-year partnership with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC, which also includes premier sponsorship of Cranbrook’s STUDIO event, as well as the 2020 Graduate Degree Exhibition of Cranbrook Academy of Art which has been transitioned to an online exhibition that can be viewed here. Each award finalist will receive a $1,000 cash award to be used to support their individual practice. The finalists were selected by their Artists-in-Residence based on the criteria established by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, including passion, respect, integrity, and discipline.

“Even with our current economic climate, the continued support that Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has shown our Cranbrook students highlights the extraordinary value they place on the arts in our community,” says Susan R. Ewing, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art. “We thank them for providing our students with a lifeline to continue their work at a time when they need it more than ever before.”

The company supports the Academy and other institutions throughout the country through their Experiencing Perspectives art program, which encompasses annual art exhibitions, tours, community conversations, and other events. It includes a year-long exhibition and display of student and recent graduate art pieces throughout its headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and its business center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be an Academy student sent to Berlin for a residency this year, as has been the tradition in years past.

“At Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, we truly value the influence that the arts have within our communities and our workplace,” said Peter Henn, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC. “Now, more than ever, creative minds have the potential to inspire positive change in the world. For that reason, I am delighted to congratulate this year’s Emerging Artist finalists, and applaud all of the 2020 graduating students for their artistic accomplishments.”

To view the work of the entire 2020 graduating class, please visit

Media Contacts:
Julie Fracker
Director of Communications
Cranbrook Academy of Art

Humza Ahmad
Manager, Corporate Communications
Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC

Fort Worth Permanent Art Collection Moves to a New Home, new Experiencing Perspectives exhibition installed

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Pieces from the 11th annual Experiencing Perspectives art exhibition are staged for installation at the new Fort Worth Business Center.

When employees at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services moved to their new state-of the-art home in the Fort Worth Business Center this April, they marvelled at the newness of the facility that had been built from the ground up. And while they delighted in the “Regional Rustic” color palette that graced the walls—orange hues reminiscent of the Texas sun, land and cattle; and bluish-green and teal shades invoking images of the sky, vegetation and refreshing water—they couldn’t help but notice that the walls were a little empty.

But not for long.

Recently, the artwork of the company’s Fort Worth permanent collection, that is, the 11 pieces of art the company purchased from the annual Experiencing Perspectives exhibits, rejoined the team. Each of the four floors features a few of these works, including the most recent acquisitions from emerging local artist, Ryan Goolsby, a graduate of Texas Christian University (TCU); and Eskinder G. Abebe, an artist from Southern Methodist University (SMU).

Both had previously displayed pieces in the Experiencing Perspectives Fort Worth art exhibition, an innovative art collaboration between Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, SMU and TCU. Since 2008, more than 1,000 works of art by SMU and TCU students and alumni have been selected to be displayed throughout the company’s Fort Worth Business Center.

Now, with the installation of the 11th annual Experiencing Perspectives art exhibition the last weekend in June, the rest of the walls feature a wealth of new artwork from the current students and recent graduates of SMU and TCU.

“We are fortunate to have offices in communities with strong college and university art programs, where we’re able to find inspiration in the work of many artists of all ages and stages in their careers. At the same time we are supporting those artistic endeavors, we are bringing art to people for whom it might not be part of their daily lives, if they aren’t seeking it out,” says Leila Matta, Brand Identity, Design, and Art Programs Manager for one of the curators of the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services art program.

“While we have a robust philanthropy mission that focuses on many worthy causes, our art program is one of the most unique,” says Heather Heggie, Senior Manager for Credit Operations at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. “While we appreciate the ability to nurture young talent and help inspire emerging artists to dream big, our team receives just as many benefits. These pieces of art contribute to a dynamic work environment by inspiring creative thought and challenging the team to consider different viewpoints.”

The latest Experiencing Perspectives exhibit will be revealed to the public this fall.

Q&A with Marianna Olague, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services 2019 Michigan Emerging Artist Award

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Marianna Olague

Partnering with local art institutions allows Mercedes-Benz Financial Services to create collaborations that inspire diversity of thought. In this, the first in a series of artist Q&As, we go behind the art on our walls to learn more about them, what makes them artists and how they create these compelling pieces.

Cranbrook Academy of Art Graduate (Painting ’19), Marianna Olague, was recently announced as the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Michigan Emerging Artist Award recipient. The Michigan Emerging Artist Award, now in its 15th year, is just one part of Cranbrook’s 18-year partnership with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

As the recipient of the coveted Michigan Emerging Artist Award, Olague will participate in a two-month residency in Berlin, Germany this summer. In this Q&A, we dive deeper into Marianna’s artistic journey and inspirations, as well as her thoughts on living and working in Berlin, and where she’ll go from there.

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services: How long have you been painting? What did your path look like from then to now?

Marianna Olague (MO): I’ve actually only been painting for about four or five years. My father is a painter and an art teacher, so I was always surrounded and inspired by painting, but until more recently, my medium had been drawing. I’ve been drawing since I learned to hold a pencil, and studied drawing in my undergraduate program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). When I started painting, though, I immediately fell in love with it and found myself wondering, “Why haven’t I been doing this all along?!”

When one of my UTEP instructors, Therese Bauer, introduced me to Cranbrook, and I knew that’s where I wanted to be for my graduate studies, I wasn’t deterred by the fact that the school doesn’t have a drawing department. I simply dove head-first into my new passion for painting. And here I am.

Q: What three words would you use to describe your work/point-of-view?

MO: Oooo…that’s tough. I will say personal, family and lifestyle. What’s interesting, is that my work got much more personal when I started painting. My drawings were much less so.

Q: Talk more about your family. Obviously, they are integral to your work.

MO: My immediate family members all live in El Paso, and I see them regularly. As I mentioned, my father is an art teacher. I was actually his student during middle school, where he worked for years. He’s currently a high school instructor. As a result of my father’s influence, it has always been my goal to study art and make it my profession. Seeing him make a living doing what he loved, showed me it was possible.

My parents divorced when I was young. My mother went on to have two more daughters, my sisters, who all currently live in government housing in a low-income neighborhood of El Paso, similar to where I grew up. When I was young, I remember thinking how ugly and grim it seemed, but as an adult, when I spend time there now, I can better find the beauty in it…specifically in the people, like my family, who live there. Their grace and strength, amidst the challenging environment, inspires me and heavily influences my work.

I love them all, and am so grateful for their influence on, and support of, my work.

Q: Beyond your family, who else has influenced your art?

MO: Gaspar Enriquez. He is a brilliant Mexican-American artist from El Paso, who creates portraits of people of Chicano heritage. He is a friend and contemporary of my father’s, and I am incredibly inspired by his work.

Q: Where and when do you do your best work?

MO: I like to treat my art-making as a job, so I essentially try to adhere to a traditional 9-to-5 set of work hours.

I am incredibly inspired by the sights I find driving around the desert…the scenery and colors, and the way the heat and shadows play off objects…it’s some of my favorite inspiration. There are honestly some colors of the spectrum that exist only in the desert!

Q: If you weren’t an artist, what profession might you be pursuing?

MO: Teaching! I really admire the hard work and selflessness of teachers. Dedicating your life to helping young people grow and achieve their dreams seems a very noble profession.

Q: What are your thoughts on living and working in Berlin this summer?

MO: I am nervous, and excited…maybe a bit intimidated…but incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I haven’t done much traveling in my life to date, so I am anxious about living abroad, but I know I am up for the challenge and am very much looking forward to it, and all of the new experiences about to come my way.

Q: Beyond Berlin, what’s ahead for you?

MO: After Berlin, my priority will be to find myself a new studio workspace. I will stay in the southwest U.S., but will likely relocate from El Paso, perhaps to California. I will be working full time, and am honored to have been signed by the David Klein Gallery in Michigan, and will be concentrating on creating some really meaningful and fabulous pieces for them. I also will be participating in some major art shows/fairs, including one coming up in Miami. It’s an exciting time for me, to say the least!

For more on Marianna Olague, visit her website.

Marianna Olague 2019 Michigan Emerging Artist Award Recipient

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Marianna Olague in front of a recent narrative portrait featuring her sister.

Marianna Olague of Cranbrook Academy of Art Named 2019 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Michigan Emerging Artist Award Recipient

Exploring the art scene in Germany. Meeting other artists—both aspiring and accomplished. Travel, lodging and studio space at the international cultural center Künstlerhaus Bethanien, along with a $5,000 stipend.

These are the perks that await Marianna Olague of Cranbrook Academy of Art, who has been offered a two-month residency as the school’s 2019 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Michigan Emerging Artist Award recipient.

Olague, a 2019 graduate of the Painting Department, was selected from among 10 finalists, one from each department at Cranbrook Academy of Art, who each presented to a jury while showcasing their work at Cranbrook Art Museum.

“I create narrative portraits that depict the everyday lives of my family and friends,” she says, describing her work that portrays the people and border town of El Paso, Texas, where she grew up. “I saturate my forms with bright hues, a color palette influenced by the rich culture and landscape of Mexico. As a result, each element is distinct and of equal importance mimicking traditional muralism and storytelling.”

“Growing up my family never traveled, as we simply couldn’t afford it, and I’ve spent much of my life living in one place,” Olague said. “Being accepted to Cranbrook was my first move away from home, and it has afforded me many opportunities. Now, thanks to Cranbrook and Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, I get to travel abroad, which is far more than I could’ve bargained for when I chose to pursue graduate school. It’s truly amazing.”

The company also supports the Academy through its Experiencing Perspectives art program, which encompasses annual art exhibitions, tours, community conversations and other events. The Experiencing Perspectives exhibition is a year-long display of student and recent graduate art pieces throughout the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

“When you travel the halls of our headquarters, it’s easy to feel as if you’re visiting an art museum, thanks to the talented Cranbrook artists who share their work,” said Peter Zieringer, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. “For decades, our company has placed immense value on the positive influence of art in the workplace. Our partnership with Cranbrook and other schools provides emerging artists with career-advancing opportunities, and our employees with added inspiration and motivation in their daily work.”

Zieringer continued, “Our congratulations to Marianna on her accomplishments. With this award, we are pleased to be able to shine a spotlight on her talent and hard work.”

In addition to Olague’s prize, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services also awarded a $1,000 New Beginnings Award to each of the nine remaining Emerging Artist Finalists, including: True Harrigan, Fiber; Mark Wise, Architecture; Brian Vu, Ceramics; Tiffany Danielle Elliott, Sculpture; Tatum Gentry, Metalsmithing; Lorena Cruz Santiago, Photography; Brenden Lovejoy, 2D Design; Versia Harris, Print Media; Sunny Kim, 3D Design.

“We are incredibly grateful to Mercedes-Benz Financial Services for their continued support of the arts,” said Academy Director Susan R. Ewing. “This award provides our students with an opportunity they simply could not receive anywhere else. In addition to the financial award, our students gain a full roster of new connections, and each recipient returns from this trip even more grateful than when they left.”

Learn more about Marianna Olague and her work through her website.

Julia Jalowiec 2019 Texas Emerging Artist Award Recipient

Monday, May 6th, 2019

Janet Marzett congratulates an excited Julia Jalowiec as she is named the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Texas Emerging Artist Award recipient.

SMU’s Julia Jalowiec Named 2019 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Texas Emerging Artist Award Recipient

A two-month residency in Berlin, Germany, awaits Julia Jalowiec, Southern Methodist University (SMU) Meadows School of the Arts alumni, who has been named the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Texas Emerging Artist Award recipient.

As recipient of the coveted award, Jalowiec will receive travel, lodging, studio space at the international cultural center Künstlerhaus Bethanien, transportation and a $5,000 stipend. Additionally, one of the most exciting elements is introductions to important members of the renowned Berlin art community, thanks to a personalized networking program, as well as free admission to Berlin museums.

“From the moment we met Julia, it was evident that she embodies the award’s core values of passion, integrity, respect and discipline,” said Eileen Maxson, senior lecturer of photography with SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and a jury member for the 2019 Emerging Artist Award. “In her work, Julia brings levity to weighty subject matter, like mortality, with conceptual wit and a playful approach to mediums and materials. We were moved by Julia’s twofold commitment to art as an outlet for personal transformation and as an opportunity to impact and educate her community.”

Jalowiec, who earned her B.F.A. from SMU in 2018, depicts human figures using cast iron, ceramics, printmaking and painting mediums. Her works have been displayed in several exhibits across the country.

“The figures I form with my hands see, feel and embody my pain,” Jalowiec has said about her artwork. “My figurative works become friends as I create people whom I have imagined and would like to get to know. Balancing the grotesque with occasional humor, I attempt to capture the dichotomy that life can bring as I experience joy with the realization of my own mortality.”

“We have always placed immense value on the influence art has in the workplace,” says Janet Marzett, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Vice President of Operations Americas. “In addition to fostering connections between the company and our community, this partnership with SMU and TCU exposes our employees to new and different perspectives, and inspires creative thought within our business environment—while of course allowing these artists to explore and enhance their crafts. We’re thrilled to continue this innovative partnership to support emerging artists.”

Jalowiec’s work will be among the pieces on display as part of the 2019-2020 Experiencing Perspectives display debuting this fall. Her work was also included in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 Experiencing Perspectives exhibits.

Car engine parts shine in new “Wallwork” installation, Ignite

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Celebrated French painter Henri Matisse once said, “A large part of the beauty of a picture arises from the struggle which an artist wages with his limited medium.”

Matisse, who once designed an entire church—Chapelle du Rosaire—and everything in it, clearly understood that every medium and each canvas large and small presents its own limits and challenges for the artist. The opportunity of the artistic struggle was one the students of Colette Laliberté’s Painting in the Expanded Field class at OCAD University, an art, design and media university, soon came to understand when they selected a medium they had never before used.

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Return on installation

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

We all know the term “return on investment.” It tells us whether an investment has been profitable. But what about the promotion of art and culture? Can we measure the “return on installation” in euros and cents – or in a very different kind of currency?

M-B Financial uses art to sell the abstract

Monday, December 14th, 2015

DETROIT — A slender, fashionable, young woman sporting a pixie haircut stands next to five marionettes, cut from tar paper in silhouette style, hanging on a wall at the suburban Detroit offices of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

The woman is artist Ivy Johnson. She’s there to discuss her stringed creations with the captive finance company’s employees. “Most want to know: What was my inspiration?” Johnson says. (Hint: She calls the grouping Imaginary Friends.)

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Digital Painting workshop brings creativity to corporate setting

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Staff at Mercedes Benz Financial Services (MBFS) in Mississauga took part in a unique digital painting workshop in November. OCAD University faculty member Veronika Szkudlarek, accompanied by student Dahae Song, visited MBFS offices for an exploration of the fundamentals of Digital Painting and Expanded Animation (DXPA).

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Trinity Spadina MPP Han Dong recognizes OCAD University in the Legislature

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Trinity Spadina MPP Han Dong rose in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to recognize OCAD University’s contribution to the cultural community following the opening of the exhibition Experiencing Perspectives at Mercedes Benz Financial Services.

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OCAD University art exhibition opens at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Ninety-nine works by 74 OCAD University students, alumni and faculty were unveiled October 21 in the Mississauga offices of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS). At the opening of the Experiencing Perspectives exhibition, President and CEO Stefan Karrenbauer thanked the artists for bringing creativity and art appreciation to the workplace.

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Berlin Inspires Cranbrook Graduate

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Emerging Artist explores unexpected contrast between concept and materials

Partnering with local art institutions allows Mercedes-Benz Financial Services in the U.S. and Canada to create partnerships that inspire diversity of thought and new ways of thinking. In addition to the exhibitions that display the artists’ work, each year one student from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is awarded the opportunity to work in Berlin, Germany for two months.

The goal is to support emerging artists through more than just financial donations. By providing artists with an entire experience, the company promotes diversity and a global perspective on artwork.

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Art program could help shape auto industry’s next creative minds

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Thursday night, I went to a fundraiser, called #onthefridge, for Art Road. This group arranges supplies and teachers for art classes and programs for schoolchildren in Detroit and southeast Michigan.

It does more than that, but that’s the core mission: Let kids have an art class. Too many schools across the U.S. have had to cut those classes.

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Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’ 15th Annual Experiencing Perspectives Art Exhibition

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’ Experiencing Perspectives art program creates an environment for employees in which contemporary art plays a large role. The idea behind the program is to invigorate creative and inspirational work. The program offers annual art exhibitions, art tours, community conversations and other events.

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Of Shoes, Awards, Patrons, and Fracture Fairies

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

On last month’s blog, from my post-surgical hospital bed, I wrote that there were many fine Detroit literary events that I would regretfully miss in September due to my fractured ankle. I’m home now, a 4-lb cast to the good, not getting out much, but I was thrilled to attend the 2014 Knight Art Detroit Challenge Grant Awards October 6 at Detroit’s Fillmore Theatre. It makes me proud to be part of the Detroit artistic community, with amazing ideas percolating up from everywhere – new and veteran groups, individual artists, literary, dance, drumming, neighborhood art projects – all being awarded for their creativity by the Knight Foundation’s vision and generosity.

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Cranbrook Academy of Art students receive more than $100,000 in awards

Monday, August 25th, 2014

On the eve of its 2014 commencement ceremonies, Cranbrook Academy of Art celebrated another year of outstanding work by its faculty and graduate students at its annual Academy Awards Night on May 8.

Before a gathering of more than 200 students, families, friends and donors in deSalle auditorium at Cranbrook Art Museum, the Academy conferred more than $100,000 in fellowships, grants, awards and scholarships, including nine distinguished awards for artistic excellence. The awards are designed to support study at the Academy and to aid 2014 graduates in the transition from student to practicing artist.

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