Maryann Worrell is an artist, designer and instructor working in Phoenixville, PA, outside of Philadelphia. Her most recent installation titled “Re-Generation,” deals with issues of re-birth. Maryann tends to use various mediums. This work includes metal, ceramics, pressed paper, wood, sand, plastics and found object/hardware. Most of her work deals with women’s issues and ideas.
Tell us a little about yourself: I am a contemporary artist and metalsmith working out of my studio, She Rocks Studio, in Phoenixville, PA. I am currently teaching Metals/Jewelry at Arcadia University and at various art centers.
Tell us about your recent work: I believe my work tells stories of women and their struggles in today’s society of demands and expectations, given to us and those we put upon ourselves.
When did you first realize you wanted to work w/ art? I’ve known from an early age that I wanted to be an artist. Due to lack of encouragement, financial hardships and a life-threatening illness, it wasn’t until I was in my early to mid-thirties that I was able to really develop and strive to be an artist.
Can you explain how you decide on the images you use in your work? Most of my work is 3-dimensional and somewhat architectural, with a bit of darkness and humor, which speaks to my personality and sense of humor. I tend to work out any demons or emotions in the work I build.
Can you describe the environment and atmosphere you work in for us? Do you generally work alone or with people? Is it quiet or do you play music? I have a small basement studio which I share with another artist. She works mostly at night and I’m in there in the day. Working with fire and heavy equipment, a basement is ideal, but at times very cold and damp. It’s located in a building which houses an art center and several other artists’ studios. It is a great place to get feedback from other artists who work in different disciplines and also to go grab a cup of coffee and gab about art. I listen to music, quite loudly and rarely work without it.
What interests do you have other than art? I enjoy kayaking, books, art-house films and finding new music for my Ipod. I have occasional yearnings to practice yoga, but it never lasts for long.
How have you handled the business side of being an artist? This is the first year that I have taken a hard look at my art as a business. After talking to other artists and becoming part of a women’s “art marketing” group, I have been able to get organized, track spending and sales, and focus more on getting into shows.
Have you collaborated w/ other artists in the past? Yes. Collaborating is both frustrating and exciting. I enjoy the excitement of coming up with new projects and hearing someone else’s ideas, but it’s hard to not always be in complete control. It’s a good learning experience in patience and trust.
Who and what are your influences? HR Geiger, Alexander Calder, Judy Chicago, Francis Bacon, Louise Nevelson…I could go on and on. The human body and how it works, music and gallery walks inspire and influence me.
Looking back, how has your style changed?
I started to make work that I thought people would like and want to buy, landscape-types and safe. I have since directed my work to reflect emotions and experiences, regardless of public appeal.
What advice would you give to people just starting out? Work everyday, don’t stop. You may have a block, but you have to work it out in someway. Go to a gallery, sketch, read something inspiring, meditate…keep working. I go to my studio 5-6 days a week, even if I have not one thought in my head, I start to clean or fiddle around, eventually I make something which generally will lead to more and more work. Don’t get discouraged.
How has the Internet helped you? The internet has helped me to find shows, do research, order supplies, and connect to various people from around the world.
What inspires you and how do you keep motivated when things get tough? I am motivated by other artists. If I flip through the latest Art in America or go see a great show in Philadelphia or NY, this is what really starts the wheels turning.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In ten years I hope to be traveling around the world and showing in galleries and museums.
Have you had any other careers? How have these influenced your career as an artist?
I have worked in various jobs…a horse carriage tour guide in Philadelphia, waitress/bartender, CAD operator for an architectural firm, pre-school teacher, just to name a few. I have worked with the public and people tend to open up to me, this has influenced the emotional elements of my work. Working in Architecture has influenced the structural, 3-dimensional elements of my work.
Have you studied art in school? I studied at Arcadia University, formerly Beaver College, Glenside, PA.
Where do you teach? I am currently teaching at Arcadia, Phoenix Village Art Center, and Wayne Art Center.
Do you plan each of your pieces in detail beforehand or do they evolve as you create them? I start with a few sketches and words of description, but it NEVER turns out the way I first imagine. It evolves more organically.
What has the reaction to your work been?
Here are three comments from my last show, “Re-Generation”… “This is amazing! I get it. The concept really speaks to me.”
“This is (pause) interesting”
“Don’t look at that ART!” -a mother to her 11yr old kid
Do you have the memory of a very special moment in you career? A gallery owner called me to talk about my current show at her gallery. She said it was generating a lot of conversations about female cancers and decisions about motherhood. Anytime my art generates conversation, I think that’s a special moment.
Are there any interesting anecdotes related to your work that you would like to share? I love when people try to “figure out” what I’m trying to say with my work, want to discuss what they see before reading the artist statement. Like it’s a little game. I find it amusing.
People in your field whom you most admire: Co workers/Mentors: Karen Misher- Metals/Jewelry Designer professor, John Heusser- Art Educator
Play list of at least ten favorite songs:
“Behind the Sun”- The Good, The Bad and the Queen
“Soul Meets Body”- Death Cab for Cutie
“Don’t F*ck with Love”- Sad Little Stars
“Australia”- The Shins
“Bowl of Oranges”-Bright Eyes
“I want you”- Rachel Yamagata
“Landed”- Ben Folds
“9 Crimes”- Damien Rice
“To Be Alone With You”- Sufjan Stevens
“Paperweight”- Joshua Radin/Schuyler Fisk
Web sites you visit regularly: http://www.inliquid.com/, http://www.artdeadline.com/, http://www.thedcca.org/, http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/ats/, www.myspace.com, http://www.icantbelieveimstillsingle.com/, http://www.philaculture.org,
Last concert/performance attended: Local Philly Band: Buzz Zeemer
Favorite comic strip/ comic book: TV show-“Heroes” closest thing to a comic book
Movies you love so much you’ve watched them more than twice:
Little Miss Sunshine
Run Lola Run
Rivers and Tides- Andy Goldsworthy
Magazines you read regularly: Art in America, Art Matters, Art News, Entertainment Weekly
Favorite authors, nonfiction: Currently reading: Micheal Kimmelman- “The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa”