Welcome back to blog #2 about an artist in New Freedom, PA. Because of her unbounded exuberance for describing her life as an artist, it was a challenge to interview and keep up with recording “exactly out of her mouth statements.” Thus, the following are my actual questions, and what I took away from her responses. From this “all in a nutshell reporting” of our two and a half hour visit, it’s my hope the reader will come to understand the person behind the art she produces and the life she’s created.
1. Your name seems representative of your colorful artwork. Is it your given birth name or an artistic pseudonym?
Mary Magenta came to me suddenly one evening when I was hiking the Appalachian Trail with my art teacher and mentor from Mercy High. We witnessed a stunning sunset. My new name solved a conundrum I had with my brother over both of our preferred artist signatures being the same and how to distinguish ourselves and our art differently. From that night forward, I became Mary Magenta and now its legally recognized.
2. I’ve read you wanted to become an artist even as a child. Has there ever been a time when the economic challenges made you question your career choice? If so how have you wrestled with it?
First, I want to say I give great credit to my grandfather who taught me skills to be a fixer-upper person. My art has been supplemented with jobs as a plumber, cabinetmaker, handy fix-it person, carpenter… you name it! I’ve even lived in Kentucky getting people out of outhouses by doing plumbing to install running water. I’ve had a home improvement business in Baltimore City in the late 1980s and early 1990s but I closed it to take care of my mother who was in hospice care. I now do home improvement jobs for family and friends. I’ve moved to New Freedom from Seattle to help a friend who needed my carpentry skills in her home. Now I live close to my family who I love and that has brought us even closer.
3- Tell me, what has been key to keeping you motivated and what advice would you have for young people pursuing an art career?
At one point I worked for a very prominent family but despite all their means, they were miserable. Nothing satisfied and I was doing some fascinating home renovation type projects for them. I determined my art, which made me happiest, no matter what the struggle, would always take precedence over anything else. It’s gotten me through so much.
My advice to youth looking at art careers would be rather than having a high cost college degree learn a trade that you can use anywhere. Something to supplement your art.
Photos Above : Recycling and conservation has always been at the heart of Mary Magenta’s art for 45 years. She told me an anecdotal story of dumpster diving in her early years as an artist retrieving discarded mat board to recycle for her paintings.
Her latest endeavor is taking feedbags, and recycling/refashioning them into reusable tote bags. This initiative has been one of her best yet!
Anyone want to support an artist with a donation of feedbags? If so, email Mary through her website.
Stay tuned to www.SowtheHeart.com. In a few days I will be posting the last of three blog writings about my visit with artist Mary Magenta. As she showed me her studio we talked more about her career which all began with the creation of one single calendar forty-five years ago! My final reflections on this woman will wrap it all up.
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