Meet Maria, one stellar artist and a fellow art major of mine from Carnegie Mellon University. I hope you’ll find her dedication to her craft and focus in carving out art-making time in her days as inspiring as I did!
Name: Maria Mangano
Where you’re from: Syracuse, New York
Where you live/work now: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Artwork medium: printmaking, mixed media, installation
Read more about Maria’s work here: avesmaria.blogspot.com.
How did you get your start in the arts? It was a gradual and years-long process. After graduating from college, I thought I’d try working part-time and making art when I wasn’t at work. I had a job at an art supply store, but I actually had a lot of trouble sticking to a schedule because the hours of my job would change every week, and of course I was also adjusting to life after the over-saturation of art and conversation one has in college, so I was pretty unmotivated at times. I ended up quitting my job to do a summer residency at the Chautauqua Institute in Western New York state, which was a big turning point for me. For the first time in years, I spent 100% of my day thinking about art, talking about art, making art, absorbing the world. It re-focused my life onto my artwork and, looking back, was probably when I started to think of myself as a professional. I spent many months after that in art limbo figuring out how to make art and “be an artist,” and ended up going back to Chautauqua to work as the tech in the Printmaking studio. Eventually I got a job at the Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh that had regular hours, and I was able to strike a better balance between my art and my day job, which was made easier by being around amazing installation art all day. Shows interspersed all of those years, some that I’d applied to do at local galleries, some I’d been invited to do. Often being in one group show would lead to another opportunity when the curator or one of the artists had the chance to do a show somewhere else, and my work turned out to be a good fit. Those years were all a slow build to the balance I try to strike now, which is working full-time and making art when I’m not at work.
What is a typical day like for you? How/when do you make time to make art? I work during the day and most Saturdays, so I try to make art in the evenings or when my “weekends” fall. It can be a challenge and a commitment to carve out entire days or evenings – I really like to make involved dinners and have time to read and go out and visit museums like everyone else, but if I have a project that needs to be finished I’ll try to get my game on by just fixing a quick dinner and holing myself up in the studio until late.
Where is your studio located? I work right out of my own house. There’s a room that used to be a second-floor kitchen for the upstairs tenants, when the house was a duplex. It can be tough to not let myself get derailed by chores, or cats, or the giant distraction known as the internet (honestly a problem anywhere), but I’m glad I have the space and don’t have to pay for a studio. When I need to do some intaglio printing, I go to Artist Image Resource on an open studio night.
What inspires your work? (Favorite artists, famous or otherwise, favorite quotes?) I’m really inspired by natural history museums, especially the hushed and precious atmosphere they create with dramatic lighting and wood cases and all. I think the presentation of science to the public says a lot about humanity’s relationship to the natural world. In the same vein, my favorite artists are illustrators and students of nature – John James Audubon, Maria Sybilla Merian, Albrecht Dürer. As far as contemporary artists, Walton Ford, Mark Dion, and Kiki Smith are favorites of mine.
What are you working on now/next? So I was at a white elephant gift exchange last December and my husband fortuitously picked this amazing vintage address book. (It’s this model, actually, in green, made by Bates.) It was partially filled up with very old phone numbers and addresses – well before the days of seven-digit phone numbers. I found the whole thing fascinating, and I’m currently painting little mixed-media portraits of animals on every page. I felt a bit like I was peering into the past, into dead people’s lives through this object, and wanted to look at the past of “nature” and the departed presences of animals as well, so I chose animals for each letter in the address book whose extinction or population loss was a result of human influence.
I’ll also have a few pieces up as part the ARTventures studio tour for the Americans for the Arts Conference that’s [in Pittsburgh] in June – I’m really excited about that. Pittsburgh has some amazing artists to share with the world.Carrie is an artist, illustrator, graphic designer and eco-crafter in the Harrisburg area. She has a passion for upcycling, recycling and repurposing almost everything. Carrie is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in fine art. She lives in New Cumberland with her husband and their elephant disguised as cat, named Ellie. Discover her etsy shop, Facebook page and online portfolio.