An Interview with Mary
Inspired by the world around me, I am a passionate fiber artist who feeds my soul by creating art. Through creativity my free spirit is unleashed and beckons me to think and create both inside and outside the box.
Why do you do what you do?
In addition to my 3 amazing sons and spouse, this art keeps me fulfilled with an incredible “joie de vivre”!
How do you work?
Since there are so many different processess and techniques I use, I first need to determine what mode I think I’d like to work in for the project, such as shibori or screenprinting, etc. and probably a combination thereof. I start with a blank piece of cloth as my canvas and build layer upon layer until I am satisfied. Although I do some sketching and planning, I love to work spontaneously and let the magic unfold!
What’s your background?
Initially I was a dental hygienist and acquired my M.A. in Education, worked in private practice, raised 3 incredible sons, taught in a junior college and currently manage my husband’s dental practice. More than a decade ago, I attended a 2 year full-time fiber arts program at the Worcester Center for Crafts in Worcester, MA and have taken many supplemental classes with prominent fiber artists. I have a passion for teaching and taught for quite a few years at the Worcester Center for Crafts and at the Southborough Arts Center. My goal for my students is to take what they’ve learned in class and pursue those techniques that are special to them to produce extraordinary fiber art!
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
Belief in oneself! “Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.” (Morrie Schwartz as told to Mich Albom).
What role does the artist have in society?
Art has always been an integral part of all cultures beginning with prehistoric times to present day. By displaying art in galleries, museums, books, magazines, etc. and making it available for sale, the artist is contributing to and defining the aesthetic culture.
Explain what you do in 1 sentence.
I create fiber art to fulfill my soul and inspire others.
How have you evolved your work over time? Does this have any relation to your personal life?
I’ve always played with fabric and yarn since I was a child. Knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, and making clothes were integral and significant happenings in my childhood. In college I took a dark room photography class that fed me another life-long passion! 25 years ago I started making traditional quilts and gradually branched out to creating art
quilts, and then discovered dyes and techniques that unleashed a whole new passion for me! While working and raising my sons, I definitely had less time to spend on creative passions. Although my family is grown and I have more time to devote to art, I still have to balance this with my work for the dental practice.
Have you had any experiences that drastically changed your life as an artist?
Yes, I had breast cancer 12 years ago and my life came to a screeching halt for a while. In addition to the extraordinary support of my husband, 3
sons, family and friends I was able to heal and acquire an even greater passion for living by allowing my creative side to take over! While going through radiation, I created a 9 mask African quilt that became a finalist in a Millenium competition, which went on tour to Barcelona,Spain and utimately was sold while on display in a gallery.
What art do you most identify with?
African art, artifacts and textiles I have explored extensively. I work with traditional African resists, indigo dye vat and African designs and fabric. I did an extensive series on masks and would love to go back and do more of that sometime. I thank the Japanese for the ancient art of Shibori for manipulation of fabric through folding, clamping, wrapping, stitching, etc. to create design. And batik is yet another passion and going green there is lots of soy wax to explore.
What work do you most enjoy doing?
I am passionate for Shibori, Screenprinting & Thermofax printing, Wax resist and photography (which is sometimes used in conjunction with my fiber art). I love taking a subtle 2 or 3 yard piece of fabric (preferably silk or
cotton damask) and building layer upon layer with these different techniques until I create something I enjoy!
What themes do you pursue?
I’ve worked in several series including African, Japanese Shibori (“Undulations”) and Urban Jungle Dialog – inspired by my recent trip to Bogota, Colombia and the Amazon.
What’s your favourite art work?
I can’t say I have a favorite but I love immersing myself in museums and special shows where there is historic African art on display: masks, textiles, beaded artifacts, doors, shields etc.
Describe a real-life situation
that inspired you?
Overcoming cancer : each day is precious, joyous and exceptional overflowing with gratitude!
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
My most profound and meaningful job: Motherhood to 3 extraordinary sons!