Monday, January 23, 2017

Good day to get my studio in order!

What is the name of your studio?
Corniche (A corniche is a road on the side of a cliff or mountain with the ground rising on one side of the road and falling away on the other. The word comes from the French route à corniche or road on a ledge.)

What medium do you work in? 
  • Traditional photography and digital reconstruction
  • Abstracts derived from early photographs and geometric drawings with encaustics
  • Assemblage of fine art scrolls, antiques, ephemera and found objects
Explain what you do in 100 words.
For my assemblages, I first create a tableau inspired by one of my photographs, a drawing, literary passage or music. Once printed on archival canvas, I incorporate smalls that are meaningful to the theme, such as clock parts, letters, numbers, stamps, keepsakes that I have stashed away for years. Once the pieces are assembled, I present them on a cradled birch panel, wash them with encaustics or display them in antique lap desk compartments which were used for home schooled children at the turn of the century.

"A Moveable Feast" © Mary Becker Weiss
(see more assemblages)
What are your Maine influences?
  • The support and encouragement of artists that I respect in and around Augusta, Hallowell, Gardiner, and Midcoast Maine, when I began my new work.
  • The ocean, it goes without saying, stimulates my senses and imagination on many levels.
  • Most recently I have been influenced and inspired by my collaborative participation in UMVA’s ARRT! Workshops and UMVA Newsletters as well as my recent certification as a TIMESLIPS facilitator, which is a creative collaboration of artists and storytellers with dementia and varying levels of cognitive ability in response to art.
What excites you about making art?
It took me a while to get there, but I would say the most exciting aspect of what I do is the unpredictability of the outcome, particularly with my abstracts. I grew up in the military as a child where every thing was clearly defined and delineated. Everything was black or white. No gray. No play. No creativity or “interpretation.” 

It took me years to unlearn those lessons and rigid structure and to let go of the reins in creating some of my pieces. It is when I have been able to relinquish that control that surprises have come my way that were unanticipated. At first it was frightening to let go, but now I have learned to embrace and welcome that moment.

Detail of "Brave New World" 
© Mary Becker Weiss

Is there an underlying theme in your work? Why?
I was asked the same question years ago. At the time I said “introspection.” I would say that my answer is the same today. 

Do you have art in your house? What kind of pieces?
Yes, we collect contemporary art as well as vintage art. I have always been drawn to those artists who create with passion and abandon. I love the early work of Helen Frankenthaler and Georgia O’Keeffe (though I don’t have either one), but I am just as inspired by fellow Maine artists

    What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
    Graphic and web design, CNA, freelancer

    Why art?
    It emancipates my demons (and there are many)...

    What memorable responses have you had to your work?
    • I get lost in your work and it is full of wonder, movement... swirling, rhythmical, solid and strong (the use of that brilliant gold with the deep red) yet a place to get caught and lost."
    • "Such powerful work. I tremble."
    • "Your work is breathtaking and brave. I am in awe."
    • "Mary Becker Weiss' work is not just "out of the box" it is WAY out of the box!"
    • "Mrs. Weiss, I like your paintings. They make me really dizzy." ~ From a 4th Grader in Gardiner
    • "Dear Ms. Becker Weiss, I think your "Speechless" has left me speechless. Actually it's truly bizarre (though I have gone back to look at it at least a half dozen times.")
    Has your work changed over time? In what way?
    Though my intentions have remained constant, my work has dramatically evolved through the years. When I first started with simple non-objective line drawings, I was determined to try to “create something that no one had seen before.” (Robert Mapplethorpe) Hah! I do admit that some of my early “barbaric yawps” are still floating around out there.

    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
    • Love Edna St. Vincent Millay’s quote “depart, be lost, but climb.”
    Professionally, what’s your goal?
    • To continue to create work that is meaningful and to support those causes which are important to me
    • To push away from my comfort zone. (Easier said than done, but I’m working on it…)

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