OPEN FORMAT: You've been at Open Format for a little over a year now. We're so happy to have you here. How has the last year been for you and your practice?
MARION: Thanks! I’m really happy to be a part of the space. I have always had a home studio except during my residency in Spain. During lockdown, I was especially desperate to find a studio outside of my home to facilitate not only my desire for more space but to be fully immersed in my work. I was looking for a community of artists to join and that’s exactly what I’ve found at Open Format. I love all the other creatives and feel a shared sense of purpose. Being in my own studio has definitely allowed my practice, as you put it, to flourish and my prolific nature to be indulged.
OF: How long have you been exploring this current body of work?
MW: I started exploring this new body of work when I moved into Open Format. And I had a particular ah-ha moment with a painting I made called Arboreal. A simple bend of a line opened up a whole new series.
OF: What are some of the themes you're exploring in these compositions?
MW: My current series explores the themes of starting over, branching out with a new life as well as building a new life. Some of the imagery is tree-like and others are more architectural. I went through a three trial and three-year divorce that affected my health and sanity. But these new compositions are hopefully writing the themes of my new life, my new growth, my rebirth as an artist and a mother but mostly as an autonomous person.
OF: You freehand everything, I believe. I think my hands would be too shaky to pull that off. What's your secret?
MW: Haha, well, I guess my secret is a lot of practice! With some of the more geometric architectural paintings, I use a ruler and a pencil to outline but fill in the paint freehand. Sometimes I’ll even include the pencil in my listed materials as graphite especially if you can see it. Even when I use the ruler and pencil, I don’t always paint within the lines. Most recently I’ve been painting exclusively freehand. I find the composition to be more organic and less predictable. I guess because I went to college in the analog days, being a painter for me means taking a brush to canvas. I never use tape but I have nothing against artists that employ any technique. It’s just not what I do.
OF: Do you follow the work of many other artists or do you find inspiration elsewhere?
MW: There are so many great artists out there, it’s hard to even pick a small handful. I love the work of Barbara Campbell Thomas who is currently posting a daily sketch and they are amazing. The new assemblage paintings of German artist Doris Erbacher are questioning what painting can be and are so dynamic. Fiber artist Jacqueline Surdell makes these monumental woven crazy beautiful wall pieces I drool over. Caroline Lathan-Stiefel hand sews these ethereal delicate wall hangings out of just about any material. She’s kind of the anti-Surdell but in the best way. Not to leave out the boys, Antony Densham of New Zealand paints these intense landscapes with a beautifully weird technique I really admire. I study Instagram daily for inspiration and to see what is being created and I definitely am inspired by all these artists as well as my fellow Formaticians!
OF: Do you have any words of advice for young artists that are just finding their footing?
MW: Ooof, things are so different now than when I was starting out. We used to have to shoot 35mm slides and send them in the mail to get our work out there. When things switched to digital, it made life so much easier. I take a lot from my days of analog misery and learned so much but technology has made an artist’s life so much easier. I would say to young artists to take advantage of this technology and apply to as many residencies and awards as possible. Also, take advantage of not being tied down and travel as much as you can. It’s hard to make your work “about something” when life experience may be limited to high school or college. Basing your work on outside experiences discovered in travel and others’ stories can be just as powerful. Artists are not making anything new but how we interpret what we want to present can be.
OF: What do your kids think about the art world?
MW: My kids grew up going to museums, galleries and being surrounded by art. They love going to openings and understand how important it is to support other artists. But as cool as their friends think it is to have a mom who is an artist, they also see how hard I’ve worked and how difficult it is to have a career in art. Now being a solo parent and juggling all the responsibilities attached to that reality, I hope to show them success by example.
OF: What are you manifesting for 2022?
MW: It might sound corny but I really just want to make good work this year and everything else will hopefully follow.
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