The Flower That Fled from Its Vase

An interview with artist extraordinaire, Carrie Mazure.


Tell me about yourself. What’s your story? What was your first art work?

My mum taught me to draw and paint when I was younger, and the first painting I ever made was of a cartoon flower climbing out of a vase and running away. I thought it was the most awesome, hilarious thing anyone had ever thought of. I was six, so it probably was.

I got my Bachelor’s in studio art at the University of Dallas, then moved to Michigan for the Master’s program at Cranbrook Academy of Art. I ended up meeting my husband while I was in school, so I’ve taken a hiatus from my nomadic ways and settled down with him in Ferndale. Besides my own studio work, I teach art on the side.

Why do you create art?

For me, art is a form of therapy, a way of focusing all my energy on one task, while sorting through all the clutter in my head. I’ve just found that, whether the emotion be anger, joy, fear, or anything else a mind is capable of realizing, art is the only way I feel comfortable being honest. And on a much broader level, I believe that the individual talents we each have are more than just profitable skills.

Art, especially, is a vocation. A calling.

Art, especially, is a vocation. A calling. Something to be shared for the betterment of humanity. Something to by which to lift, to ignite, to implore, to influence others through the universal language of beauty.

What does a normal day look like for you? What is your creative process?

cjbaker.burnblockMy typical studio day would probably be infuriating to watch. It’s sporadic: I work for half an hour, then usually eat for the other half, or sleep, or waste time around the internet. This goes on all day. Typical studio days are the worst.

It’s when inspiration strikes that a day gets really interesting.

If I have an idea in my head, I will work on it non-stop until I realize that I haven’t eaten in fourteen hours, or slept in twenty-four. Those are the best days.

I have a wonderful little studio adjacent to my bedroom, so things are really convenient these days. As far as my creative process, it generally goes like this: work, work, work, IDEA, revamp, work, work, IDEA, revamp, work, and then proclaim it done before I can change anything else.

There is very little in my work which starts with a clear idea and ends looking just like it. But then, the process is the entire point of my work. The end result is never as important as the building of it, and I try to get that across to people.

The process of art is the perfect representation of what it’s like to be human, and that has very little to do with final products.

What do you believe your genre uniquely adds to the life of a person?

I look around at contemporary art, and a lot of it relies on shock value to sell. But as soon as the initial awe, or revulsion, or general intrigue is gone, the appeal ends. It falls flat and the piece dies.

The best artists, I have found, are the ones who you can get to know intimately from their work. You can see their struggles, their ideals, their very self through their craft – and that’s what I’m trying to achieve.

If I can affect people in a way that allows them to relate to my work on a deeper, spiritual level, then I believe I have added to their being somehow. If I can make them realize their own selves in the process of discovering mine, then I have succeeded.

Who are your influences?

They vary over the years, but some are Yves Klein, Franz Kline, Susan Collis, Anne Wilson, Quentin Blake, and Antoine de Saint Exupery (yes, he’s a writer).

There’s a common simplicity between all of them that I find to be incredibly emotive. I tend to overthink things and approach them with a heavy hand, so I am inspired by their ability to be harsh, and yet delicate all at once.

Where do you find inspiration, and what has inspired you in the past?

My inspiration typically comes from introspection. Whatever I’m struggling with emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, at any certain point, inevitably prompts some new idea. All of my most successful works have been a sort of catharsis, a way of resolving things in my own mind.

However, that has made for a portfolio of quite sad, anxious works, and my goal now is to add dimension by expressing the positive, the humorous, more adequately.

What was your greatest artistic accomplishment? What was your greatest failure?

Since it’s still so fresh on my mind, my greatest accomplishment is definitely receiving my Master of Fine Arts from such respected school as Cranbrook Academy of Art. That was easily the most intense, productive two years of my entire life.

However, I would say that I also consider parts of it to be my greatest failure as well. I never felt as though I fit into the school, or with most of the people there, and so instead of challenging myself to become more involved and active, I isolated myself. Yes, I made good work on my own, but I skipped out on many opportunities that genuinely were once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I’m excited to see what I can build in the future with my work, now that I’ve cleared my head of the whole thing.

What are you listening to/reading right now?

Right now I’m listening to a lot of Beck, Yann Tiersen, and Nina Simone. I haven’t really been looking for new music lately, just enjoying the familiar.

As far as reading, I’m almost finished with Haruki Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, as well as Dave Hickey’s The Invisible Dragon.

Frequently asked questions?

The question I get the most from people is how my works fit into the printmaking genre, when the majority of it doesn’t even use traditional printing processes. I always tell them that I work with the ideas of what a print is, and then make my work with that mindset. for instance, my graduate thesis was mainly a drawing created by burning matches, so that their silhouettes remained, and nothing else.

The final product was a printed shadow of over four thousand matches, which easily fell under the printmaking genre both through the repetition of the image and the “print” of each match. My brain is a printmaker’s brain, so everything I make becomes a form of print, even when I don’t want it to be.

Where would you say the imagination comes from, and what role does it play in your life, as well as in your work?

Everyone is worlds more imaginative than they think they are; some people just haven’t learned to tap into that part of their brain just yet.

Imagination needs exercise to grow, and I am very thankful to have a studio practice and jobs outside of it that revolve around discovering it. I teach art to both kids and adults, and I love breaking into their imaginations and helping them realize their creative potential. Imagination is infectious. It’s confidence in our own ideas that needs work.

 

To check out and support Carrie’s art, head on over to: http://www.carolinejeannettebaker.com/.

Joseph Cunningham
Joseph is a featured Humane Pursuits columnist. He works as a marketer in West Chester, PA, and writes music, articles, and the occasional short story.

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