MARY WAGNER: Infinitely curving, looping and circling
MARY WAGNER is an artist. Her drawings are fluid and the individual curves are deceptively simple but they warm and complicate through repetition. Patterns pile on top of each other becoming value shifts and texture, dimension and movement. Sometimes the motion of the pen becomes less about any definite path and more about the disappearance of paper. There is a simple, optical pleasure in her work, but beyond that, Mary instills connections to conceptual drawing practices, mathematics, particle physics, astronomy, baroque art, meditation, and other forms of repetitive devotional practice.
Interview by Will Kitson
Your educational background is quite scientific. You studied engineering before deciding to pursue a career as an artist. What triggered the change?
Growing up sheltered in a small town, I simply didn’t know there were careers in art. My oldest brother was an engineer and it looked like a good life, so maybe I was taking my lead from him. Going to university opened my mind to other possibilities. Science and art aren’t necessarily so far removed. There are undeniable visual beauties among the sciences.
Your work has a definite geometric quality to it. How does science and maths play a part in your creative process?
Math is entirely pervasive throughout my drawing practice. My tools are specifically designed to draw a particular type of geometric figure on a Euclidean plane. There’s a mathematical formula to describe these lines. At the same time, who gives a fuck about the math. Individual letters are pervasive in any work of literature, but it is not the individual letters that make a successful story.
My titles are clues to what I’m interested in… “Resonance Disaster Landscape”, “Falling Through Space and Time” “Primordius”… language at the intersection of science and emotion, used to describe drawings at the intersection of abstraction and some other kind of abstraction.
How do you evoke meditative and subconscious practices when creating your work?
I don’t try to “evoke” meditation… The act of drawing IS meditation. Circling round-and-round, sometimes thousands of times to create one figure. The internal awareness caused by this concentration and repetition leads to zoning out, zoning in, trance… what have you
You say that you make your own ‘drawing wheels’ to aid your creative process. Tell us about this. I imagine it adds an additional element of intimacy to your work …
It’s nothing new for an artist to make their own tools. My gears were necessary to draw the fluid curving lines my free hand could not. The initial development was a lengthy process. First understanding the physics and math, then the technical requirements for their design and fabrication, through prototypes and refinement. It’s an ongoing process.
When and where do you feel the most creative?
Neither time nor place matter. It’s more of a mental tick or switch that goes off anytime, anywhere. Certainly there are external factors at play but none I can define with any certainty.
A pattern or shape to describe your current state of mind …
A hypotrochoid… a line with no beginning or end, infinitely curving, looping and circling. Mathematically speaking, it is the shape I draw most often, and I have begun to identify with it.
To watch a video of Mary in action, please click HERE
Published: November 27th, 2014
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