We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Meyer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
Last summer, while working on a big new project in my studio, I read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I now have the companion book Stillness Speaks, which I use for daily meditation readings. The ideas put forth by Tolle resonate profoundly with me. Notions such as our human connection with all life, the importance of presence and living in the moment, and accessing stillness through affiliation with the natural world. These ideas have long been and continue to be a powerful influence on my life and work. They are relevant especially now during this strange time of Covid-19 that brings anxiety and fear to so many. It is a time when many of us have slowed down and become more still out of necessity and safety. Gatherings and crowds are almost non-existent due to physical distancing, and traffic is significantly lighter as we stay closer to home. But, still, we are surrounded by life. I see more people spending time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine while hiking and biking the trails near my home. In conversations with friends both near and far, they notice the same. As we slow down and navigate through uncharted territory, we find new ways to connect. We may even notice that the sky is bluer, the air is cleaner and more fragrant, and the birds are singing just a little louder—maybe out of gratitude, or so I’d like to think. “[We] are not separate from nature. We are all part of the One Life that manifests itself in countless forms throughout the universe, forms that are all completely interconnected.” -Eckhart Tolle, from Stillness Speaks
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I create mixed media sculpture and installations that are inspired by our kinship with the natural world. Current projects include large wall panels that carry hundreds of sculptural components– typically suspended by pins or sewing needles. The work is informed by my interest in botany, biodiversity, and how our human form impacts, and is mirrored within, the landscape and physical constructs of our planet. I use a variety of materials—wood, cast metal, found objects—and have a current obsession with carving and hand-building clay. I love exploring ideas with clay, and find the tactile, pliable qualities extremely meditative. It is an inherently quiet and grounded material— connected to the earth, connected to us. I see the forms that I sculpt as living things. For me, they symbolize the physicality that is slowly diminishing from our daily lives. As our world becomes faster and more virtual, we are pulled further from the fabric of life and each other. Now more than ever we need stillness and connection. I’m interested in creating work that reflects this passion. I’ve been a full-time studio artist for 10 years, and the road has not been without a few bumps and detours along the way. I went to college right after graduating from high school, and became intrigued with sculpture while taking a course in stone carving. Though my journey as an artist began long before that, the intuitive process of carving has remained an essential part of who I am and what I do. As much as I loved that sculpture class, academia wasn’t for me. I was more interested in partying and hanging out with friends, which made those ensuing student loan payments all the more painful. Many years passed before I finally resumed my studies; years spent working in retail and not making art. But, that work led to lifelong partnerships, friendships and experiences that provided the means and the drive to follow my intuition. My path naturally circled back to art, which opened up a world of discovery. As an undergraduate at Arizona State University I blissfully explored new materials and methods in sculpture. I continued my studies at the University of Arizona, where as a graduate student I began working with large floor and wall installations. Since then I have been involved with two Phoenix artist collectives (MARS Art Space and Eye Lounge Contemporary Art Space), and have enjoyed several teaching opportunities while exhibiting my work locally and nationally. This fall I am excited to take part in the residency program at Tempe Center for the Arts. As I look forward to this new opportunity, I remain, as always, a student of art, and fostering connections with others has been paramount to my growth.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
At the time of this writing, much of our world is still shut down and people are really struggling. I look forward to the day when it is once again safe to travel and many of our local businesses and venues are able to reopen. In the meantime, here are just a few of my favorite things to do and places to enjoy and share with friends: Hiking, biking, and exploring the beauty of the desert landscape: Desert Botanical Gardens, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Happyhour/lunch/dinner: AZ 88, Casey Moores, Durants, Elements at Sanctuary Resort, FilmBar, Match at Found:Re, Spinato’s Pizza. Museums, galleries, and art spaces: Art Intersection, Bentley Gallery, Eye Lounge Contemporary Art Space, Five15 Arts and Grand Ave galleries, Gebert Contemporary, Lisa Sette Gallery, Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, SMoCA, Vision Gallery. Unique and creative shops: Desert Crafted, Made Art Boutique, Practical Art.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We need art and culture in our lives, especially right now. Artists create dialogue, connection, and enrich our world by making it more human. I’m grateful for the vibrant creative community we have in Arizona, and for all the individuals, venues and organizations that provide opportunities for artists to share their gifts. This is the perfect opportunity for me to dedicate a big shout out to my friends at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum at Mesa Arts Center. I’ve had the pleasure of exhibiting at MCA several times over the years, and was honored to present one of my works to the Mesa Art Center at the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards a few years ago. Recently, I had my first solo museum exhibition “Biophilia” at MCA. What a positive and fun experience it was to share my art in this beautiful venue and work with such an amazing museum staff. To Tiffany, Colette, Frank, and Judy: thank you for your warmth and generosity. Your love and support for the arts in our community makes Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum the local treasure that it is.
Chris Loomis Joshua Caldwell