Friday, December 4, 2009

Mary Stewart Artist Talk

On November 11, 2009, Artist-in-Residence Mary Stewart gave a lecture on her background, beginnings of becoming an artist to her works. Stewart grew up in a rural area south of Miami, Florida. From the beginning of her childhood, she taught herself to draw and has not stopped drawing since. She became interested in lithography and after reading a book on lithography, she decided to attend the University of New Mexico because the author of the lithography book taught the subject. She got a degree in Printmaking and a minor in Art History with a Film History emphasis. She then attended graduate school at Indiana University. She now teaches at Florida State University and wrote a book while balancing her time in the studio and writing. Her interests include visual narrative, Greek and Asian philosophies, politics and current events, media, digital prints, stop-motion animation, video, book art, relief prints, etching, silk screen, photography, drawing, and more.

She then showed slides of her works. One of the earlier slides she presented was "Without Voice" (black pastel on white paper). She had made this piece in response to going up for a tenure position. The drawing uses her personal experience of feeling silenced and being unable to go against anyone. With these feelings, they are psychologically portrayed in her art, where darkness brings out deeper meanings for her. It is a figure drawing of a man in a position resembling someone just about to vomit. The strokes and lines are rapid and striking, echoing movement and blurring certain areas against an angular look. It is interesting that Stewart didn't choose a woman to portray herself but a man to resonate her anger. She explained how it depicts a loss of senses, and with that a boldness appears in the drawing.At the same time, she engages students and inspires them to extend their creativity and make art. Another interesting drawing was "Learning to Sink #2" in which she asked the audience what the top image might represent. One student saw a tree, another saw the Twin Towers during 9/11. She then explained the importance of context in that she was asked to take the piece out of an exhibition because it resembled the Twin Towers, even though she had made the piece two years before 9/11 and it is actually on the bombing of Hiroshima. Her digital prints at the end included the "Entanglements" series where she depicts landscapes close to her home in Florida. It was interesting how it resembles the way streams are always refreshing their form and they are constantly shifting in a fluid manner.

I thought it was admirable how she introduced herself to each individual student in the audience and asked about their interests in art. She cares as much for others as she does her own work and encourages others to learn and be creative in whatever they do. I liked how she showed her works such as the book art after her presentation and explained more of her works closely with students. The book included watercolor and crayon that seemed to dance as she flipped the pages and created a vibrant set of colors. While she takes her art seriously, she does not forget her childhood sense in that it is also imaginative and enjoyable. She shows a lot of passion for her work and includes a variety of her inspirations. At the same time, she engages students and inspires them to extend their creativity and make art.