Visual artist and mixed media specialist, Mary Meyer, is among artists to display pieces in the upcoming Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation’s “Socially Distanced” exhibition at the Center Space gallery inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
The Gold Canyon resident takes the opportunity to share with the Independent the importance of highlighting local artists like herself.
I create: Panoramic wall installations that focus on our human connection with the environment. I work with clay, metal, wood, found objects, and use meditative processes like carving and hand building. My current work involves vast systems of ceramic sculptures informed by the life cycles of trees.
I was inspired to be an artist by: An intuitive passion to create, but my career as an artist began later in life as a result of two important decisions. First, I returned to art school after a long career in retail sales. I earned my BFA at Arizona State University, and my MFA at the University of Arizona. This led to teaching opportunities and new ways to make income.
Second, I connected with the local art community through membership in artist collectives such as MARS Artspace and Eye Lounge. These invaluable experiences gave me the courage to pursue my creative path and finally take the plunge into a full-time studio practice.
I’m currently working on: several projects that are based on my interest in ecology and search for balance in daily life. I am in the process of making hundreds of clay seeds for a large piece titled Resilience; work that is inspired by the flora that bloom and grow despite the harsh climate of our desert landscape.
The Stillness Series, another ongoing project, explores the balance between solitude and isolation using porcelain leaves, sewing needles, and wood. I just finished teaching a workshop based on leaves for Memory Lounge: an outreach program through Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation. This opportunity led to The Leaf Connection, a new community engagement project that I am developing.
This year I’m most looking forward to: new ways to share my work and build connections within the community. Several pieces from my Stillness series will be included in the exhibition Socially Distanced, which opens in September at Center Space gallery in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Curated by Laura Hales, this show features works created in response to the isolating events of 2020.
I’m also exploring printmaking through the phICA (Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art) Trajectory Portfolio Project. I am one of 12 local artists working in collaboration with master printer Brent Bond of Santo Press to create and publish a 12-print portfolio. I’m excited about this process and adding it to my practice.
This fall, I’m taking part in the Artist Residency Program at Tempe Center for the Arts and the affiliated exhibition Color: The Beauty and Science of Color. I will have a studio space within the Gallery at TCA, and I look forward to working alongside fellow artists in residence while engaging with the local community.
The challenges of being an artist include: Carving out time to make art! A large part of a studio practice does not involve art making, but it does involve wearing many hats. There is marketing, research, grant writing, budgets, inventory, web design… Building relationships with fellow creatives has helped me navigate the administrative side of art, along with taking advantage of the many local and online resources.
Other activities I enjoy are: Running, hiking, biking, camping, and spending time with my husband and our two rescue beagles.
If I had four hours with absolutely nothing to do on a Saturday, here’s how I would spend it: Exploring the desert landscape on one of the many Arizona trails. If it’s too hot to hike, I would stay indoors and binge watch Madmen or a few sixties rockumentaries.
My No. 1 suggestion to new artists: Follow your passion and surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and your work. Also, be diligent about documenting your art and do it with the best images. For me, that means working with a professional art photographer whenever possible. Great images are a game changer.