Who is Mary?

1. What’s your background as a visual artist?

Childhood DRAWING. Drawing. Drawing. During ALL my classes. At the end of a school day, my hands would shine with graphite. A high school senior project on Henri Matisse. Writing poetry. Free Play!

2. Which artists have you loved the most?

Paul Klee. The Gawain-poet. Giselbertus. Romare Bearden. Francis of Assisi. The master-doodler of the Luttrell Psalter. The Ibo mask-makers. The illuminators of Beatus illuminated Apocalypses. Matisse. Picasso. Stuart Davis. Diebenkorn. Geoffrey Chaucer and Robert Frost. Jean Dubuffet!

3. How do you start a new piece? What’s your process?

Often I begin by making some marks. Or I grab a handful of scraps off the floor, choose five, scatter them around, then glue them. Then I look to see what’s there and listen for the voice: magenta oil pastel, charcoal pencil—black gesso! I don’t let myself stop. Later, I slow way down. In each piece I try to say something I like, something fresh. If suddenly it makes me laugh out loud, that’s a good sign. I try to let rhythm, color and form evolve together. Sometimes I have an idea—a house, some characters, a story. If at the end of the day, all I have is what I expected, I know I haven’t gone far enough.

4. Which works are you most proud of?

The ones in which I take great risks—yet pull them off. Escape from the Bordello is one. And, long ago, Unelanuhi the Sun. After drawing and collaging her, I saw something was missing. So I poured a bottle of orange ink over her face and let it run down her torso. Quick, I drew her face again in the wet streams. She shone!