Clay artist Marie Gibbons is all about community, and it shows in nearly every move she makes as an artist. Her dedication is not confined to the artist community with which she loves to connect; she's also a firm believer in the idea that there's an artist inside everyone just waiting to be nurtured and drawn out. In that capacity, she's a born teacher: Gentle and encouraging, Gibbons takes real delight in helping people find themselves by putting a malleable lump of clay in their hands.
If she's there, the door is always open at her EvB Studio, a neighborly nook nestled next door to the Oriental Theater in the Berkeley business district, where she works, teaches classes and, on First Fridays, hosts themed community clay mini-shops for a nominal fee. Her own work takes many directions, from whimsical and strange figures to beautiful, richly textured studies from nature and folklore. Both styles will mingle on Thursday, March 7, when her new show, When your mouth is too small to scream in a dream, a mask series inspired by her own insomnia, opens at MacSpa.
Gibbons is always doing, rarely resting -- she's a bit driven that way -- and she directs her energy back into the world around her. She also has a lot to say about the arts in Denver. We asked her to take our 100CC quiz; continue reading for her answers.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Marie Gibbons: Hieronymus Bosch has always blown my mind, especially when you think about the time that he was creating in. I mean, geeze, in the 21st century, I have people read into my work, thinking that I am out clipping the blooms off the rose bushes -- what in the world did Hieronymus's neighbors think about him? I am so drawn to figuring out "things" in people's minds, in society -- why and how people think the way they do, and how that all gets communicated in art. I would love to be able to have a conversation with Bosch, to hear his motivations and understand the metaphors in his work.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Jason deCaires Taylor! I found his work a few years ago, and I am enamored with what he does. His work is literally breathtaking: In order to view his installations, you have to dive to the ocean floor, where you will then find the most beautiful figurative work, which has evolved into a collaboration between artist and nature, creating a living aspect to his work. If you don't know of this artist, OMG -- Google him!
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
This is a tough question for me to answer, partly because I feel a little lost in the current art scene. I don't get myself out there as much as I would like to really see and talk to new artists, largely because it takes so much of my time to keep my own self and studio on track. I do think that trends, in general, are things that many get sucked into and try on, whether for the possible money-making and attention. But without the trends, we wouldn't get the WTF reaction and desire to improve it or make it real. So in many ways, even the bad or weak art that happens can do very good things by making other artists get a little pissed or annoyed and take it to a new and more evolved level.
Art has become so mainstream in many ways. There's good and bad to that. The good is that it wakes people up to the power of art -- like the good that is achieved by having art elements in their lives. The iffy part of it: You can purchase art for your home in the big-box stores. Hell, you can buy art for your home in the Dollar Store! I think that devalues true art, and I think it oversimplifies appreciation of the artist and gives the general public the idea that everything is art. There needs to be a better understanding of what is art and what is decoration.
Continue reading for more from Marie Gibbons.
What's your day job?
I am 24/7 -- and then some -- with my art. Of course, this includes lots more than just making art, but it all revolves around the art. I love living the glory of being your own boss, but I just wish I got to eat the bonbons and watch the soaps that some think you get to do on a daily basis when you're your own boss.
I guess if I had to describe my "day job," it would include things like developing, scheduling and teaching cool workshops -- both in the studio and out and about. I do a lot of residencies and workshops through Think 360 Arts, which bring me into schools to share my love of clay and create amazing clay projects with students (sometimes up to 400-plus students within five to eight days' time). I also have my marketeer hat that has to be worn often, letting people know what's going on in the studio: classes, First Friday mini-shops, show openings.
I recently started a new program at the studio that you will be hearing more about: theHIVE. I want to create, through group-funding efforts, a fund that will allow me to approach at-risk groups and offer them deeply discounted workshop opportunities. There are so many people who could so benefit from a little creative expression and time; unfortunately, these groups typically don't have the funding to bring art into the mix. I want to do my bit to change that. And then, of course, there's the making of ART....
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would purchase an amazing building that had great classroom and studio space, and develop an outreach program which would make ART totally available to those who aren't getting it but damn well should be!!
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I know we all think we "support" the arts, and in many ways we do, but there are so many ways we can "up" this. If art in the schools was given the respect and support and funding that it should get, the ripple effect of that would do wonders for all of us. There would in turn be a respect and a desire and appreciation for art, all because it has been something that was appreciated and experienced and supported from young ages.
So let's work on getting art back in the schools and respected as a way to learn, think, problem-solve and express yourself and your ideas. And yes: Art does relate to the current curriculum, to any curriculum, in a multitude of ways -- just ask any artist. I'd be willing to bet they can tell you at least ten different curriculum-based connections to anything they are creating!!
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
My favorite Colorado Creative? Yikes, how do you pick just one of those? I think that Colorado has one of the best art/creative communities there is. The amazing thing about it is that we ARE a community, a family, and for the most part, we are blessed with a community of creatives who share, support and nurture each other. That in itself is priceless. That is the whole reason I am an artist today, because I was lucky enough to find a group of like-minded, creative human beings who opened their arms to me and made it more than okay to say the words, "I am an artist." I work hard every day to be sure that I am there to do that for the next person who is whispering that statement to themselves when no one is looking. I want to make it be okay for them to say it out loud.
Throughout the year, we'll be casting our radar on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Who rocks your world locally? Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!