Today’s sneak peek is In the Studio with Mary Edna Fraser a textile batik and print artist Although Mary Edna is starting to work with Oil paints and does watercolor and mono-prints…she may prefer to be called an educator to an “Artist” but she certainly uses her artistic skills to educate anyone who has had the opportunity to see her work. She portray’s bodies of land and water and more recently the sky to show how our earth is changing. Her imagery and colors are beautifully translated through her language of batik painting on silk. She and I met at one of her open studio nights, a benefit for Sierra club Charleston last fall. I had heard of her work, several friends and other artists told me I needed to meet Mary Edna, once I arrived at the event I was excited to see I was familiar with her work from The Textile Museum, Smithsonian Air & Space, Gibbes Museum of Art and the Charleston Waterways Installation at the Charleston Airport…she’s a prolific artist!
HKPS::What age did you suspect or know you were an artist?
MEF::As a child I used to draw birds, horses and dogs but I became an artist after college in my late 20’s.
HKPS::What mediums do you work with?
MEF::Batik on silk, watercolor on paper, oil on canvas and board, monotype on paper
HKPS::Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
MEF::In my studio built in 1990 25’ x 35’ with half floor upstairs
HKPS::When you began working in this space did you plan any systems for the overall set up or did you let things evolve organically? How did past studio spaces or systems influence this space?
MEF::It was all planned. Fans to remove toxic air and dye room with hood. Before I just put a fan in the window or worked outside.
HKPS::Do you consider yourself to be an organized person?
HKPS::Have you ever worked with another artist or gallery? If so did you learn any systems for organizing?
MEF::Yes. Every installation I learn, over 100 shows later.
HKPS::How or where else have you learn your organizing habits and systems?
MEF::Observation and reading
HKPS::What types of schedules, systems, tools or processes do you use to help maintain organization in your studio? Would you like to share any tips?
MEF::Calendar on phone and computer as well as a little print version. A dated running book of comments (in my studio-like a guest book).
TIP::Hire good people smarter than you….
HKPS::What kinds of materials/tools do you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them?
MEF::All really, being together is difficult at best. Paper is the hardest and I have trouble throwing away things.
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once? Is this due to space constraints, creative process, organizing systems or other influences?
MEF::5 exhibits currently and 3 works of art when in that mode…
HKPS::How often do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space due to space or other constraints?
MEF::Weekly, monthly, seasonally, for exhibits and deep purge in January.
HKPS::Please describe how creative cycles of organization or dis-organization affect your creative process? Are there certain phases of projects that are more or less organized?
MEF::My studio must be clean to work on art. All emails and paper work are finished and my family must be ok. I get messy while working on art and then clean it all up again. Anytime I have a client coming the studio it is very organized and together.
- The office-loft with lots of flat and other file cabinets
Large flat surface island with storage underneath
HKPS::How much thought do you give to your artistic body of work in terms of historic value and the overall legacy you will leave behind? How do you store/archive your work or records?
MEF::At the age of 62 very much is given to legacy. My work is stored digitally and in print and in real live art rolled up in the studio or in archival bins. I have the history of location of over 1000 works.
My greatest wish is that through seeing how other artist work we can learn from one another. There is no ONE correct system or way of organizing. There are as many creative systems as their creative makers! My aim is to highlight these unique makers in each interview. A HUGE thank you to Mary Edna for inviting us into her studio and sharing her personalized systems and how organizing affects her creative process. Please check out her work over at her website and if you live in the Charleston area or are visiting be sure to get in touch to visit her studio by appointment! She’s a very talented lady and I’m so glad to have her in our local community!
* Inside the Studio was my brainchild in 2011. There are a lot of popular studio features on the web and in magazines but I’m specifically interested in showing how organizational process influences the artists studio work. These photo’s are not styled and are typical of how the artists working studio looks. I request that each artist leave their space as it would be on a daily basis (just like I ask my clients). This series is meant to highlight how artist REALLY work rather than showing STYLED shots (popular in home and organizing magazines and blogs). I’m sure just like me, you are fascinated by the “behind the scenes” sneak peek into these artists working lives!