INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST: MAGGIE FULLER


Maggie Fuller shares her thoughts:
Question: Tell us a bit about yourself-where you grew up.  Things you like to do besides your art.  Interesting tidbits.  
I grew up in New England- Massachusetts, New Hampshire & Maine. I was raised in a very artistic family. My mom was/is a woodworker. She designs and builds furniture to this day. She is also a painter. She had a silk-screening business when we lived in NH. Both my older brothers are musicians as well as sculptors and painters. One of my brothers went to art school while my other brother studied wooden boat building and engineering. I have other close relatives who are also artists. Art, the making of it, or the viewing of it in museums and art shows, was always part of my growing up. While in NH my brother’s and I took ceramic classes from a neighbor who had a studio in her basement. A year later she sold all her ceramic supplies, including the potter’s wheel and the kiln, to my mom. Mom set up a ceramic studio in our basement where we had full access to create to our heart’s content. 

For high school, I attended a small private boarding school in NH called High Mowing. It was a Waldorf School where art held an important role in our day-to-day life. We were required to try our hand at all the art options the school had to offer us- ceramics, painting, drawing, weaving, batik, acting, music, and dance. Once we had a taste of each we could explore the areas that most intrigued us. Interestingly, I only took one 3 week class of ceramics and decided I was much more interested in Batik. It wasn't until I attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago did I work again in clay. After 3 years at SAIC I switched over to making hand-made paper and using paper fiber as a medium for painting. My first husband was a papermaker and setting up a ceramic studio of my own was not financially viable at the time. During this period in my life, I also started painting in acrylics on wood panels, as well as printing with oils on canvas. It wasn't until I moved to Texas and met my second husband, Mike, did I return to ceramics. Mike had a fully operational ceramic studio in his garage in Galveston. As soon as I moved to Galveston I took up ceramics again. It had been 13 years since I had last mucked in clay and I felt like I had 'come home' to my medium of preference.

Question: Who was your most influential mentor? Why? How?
My mom was my first mentor who influenced me to explore the world of art by viewing art, talking about art, and then gave me opportunities to explore various mediums to make art. Mom gave me the keys to the World of Art. 
My high school art teacher, Sabina Nordoff, who taught Eurythmy (a form of dance developed by Rudolph Steiner who had developed the Waldorf Education/schools, starting the first school in 1919), who also taught drawing and philosophy, was/is my biggest inspiration/influence to this day. She herself was not only a dancer but a painter. She inspired me to look closely at the natural world around me and within myself to see the beauty to be found. She encouraged me to translate what I saw into some form of art whether it be in written form or 2-D or 3-D form. 

Question: Who is your favorite artist?  Why? 
I am inspired by many, many artists through the human history of artmaking; from prehistoric cave art and sculpture to present-day contemporary art. But, the painter who captures my interest the most is John Singer Sargent. He had the ability to capture the essence and gesture of the human body, plants, animals, fabrics, furniture, sky, landscape, even music, with swaths of color and shape that captured the object being painted perfectly, without further detail. His ability to apply paint to a canvas that becomes a drape of a see-through material where he has also captured the human form and often another material beneath the drape of see-through material is remarkable. Sargent's work astounds me and not many artists astound me. I have been very fortunate to see many of Sargent's paintings in person and I am forever grateful for having these opportunities. He inspires me to search further and to explore the essence of what I would like to portray in my own art.

 Question: Where do you get your inspiration for your work? 
My inspiration comes from a wide assortment of things. They have varied greatly over the years; ancient art, myths, architecture, and literature; Medieval art, architecture, and illuminated manuscripts; all the houses I've ever lived in, religion and the stories, history, myths that makeup religion; Mary Magdelene; microscopic sea creatures, coral, and nudibranchs (sea slugs); organic forms found in the Natural world; abstract forms distilled down from real objects. It depends on what shows up to inspire me. Inspiration is fickle. Sometimes I am inspired and run with the inspiration to create art for years on end. But, there are other times when nothing inspires me at all, not even to just dabble with anything for a few years and so. During these times, I read, garden, and wait for the next bit of inspiration that I might be lucky enough to be blessed with.
Question: Tell us a bit about your process.  
When the inspiration comes, the ideas that flow into my head are of what the subject matter means or conveys to me when I see it. It usually jumps out at me and intrigues me in some way very definitively. It could be about the lines, form, or the distinct shapes of the object or the colors. I will often do a lot of image research on the subject that has caught my attention. I'll look at real images and also how other artists have interpreted the idea. With all these images in my head, I then close the books, turn off Google and see what emerges. Sometimes I draw simple sketches to get a feel for a line or shape but, often I don't because I have no idea of what I actually want as a completed piece so, I just start and see where it leads me. When this happens, I only know what I will end up with when I arrive at a stopping point that feels right. Whan and what 'feels right' is only known when I get there. Often, all I have to go forward with is the essence and/or elements that had inspired me to begin with and now want to figure out how to create a completely different form from the initial inspirations.

Question: Toot your own horn. Tell us about awards and honors that you may have gotten in your creative life.  Which was the most meaningful?
Before moving to Galveston I had only shown some of my paintings, (my paper fiber as my medium, and some of my acrylic paintings) to the public. At those times my confidence in my artmaking was developing and I was not clear in which directions I wanted to head in regards to creating art. My day job was being an elementary school teacher. I taught Third Grade for 3 years, then Kindergarten for 4 years, and then Elementary Art for 3 years so, art was done in spare moments throughout these years of teaching. It was not until I moved to Galveston, where my confidence in my art-making became stronger and sharing my work was more enjoyable and rewarding. I was also tremendously inspired to create and had the opportunity to really explore my artmaking to it's fullest. I no longer was teaching and I had lots of free time on my hands to work in the studio. I have received a few monetary awards at shows for my ceramics but, the most rewarding is just in the watching of people as they view my work and knowing that something resonated with them from what I created. If I was lucky they also bought my pieces. I feel very fortunate to say that there are many, many pieces of my art in many, many homes around the country. Many of these homes have a collection of my work including various pieces from the various series that I have so far completed in these last 20 years.