Born in New York State, Marnie Hillsley grew up in Minnesota. She received a B.F.A. from Montana State University and an M.F.A. in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University. She now lives and works in Cold Spring, New York.

"Although Hillsley's work appears naturalistic, it is actually a vehicle for exploring the understructure of nature. The work is intensely formal yet built around allegory and poetry. Her color palette is serenely elegant and favors a range of blue violets with complements of subtle, rusty oranges and inky greens. Her pieces play with complimentary colors, some layers resembling a bark-like rubbing, or a surface of actual leaves in a built-up plaster base like the process of uncovering an archeological dig."

As stated by Germaine Keller, 2004