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Interviews: Mary Iverson

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On  Saturday November 11th, Amsterdam's Andenken gallery will be hosting a double solo show by American Artists, Scott Albrecht and Mary Iverson (featured) at their new location in an old anatomy building in Oosterpark in Amsterdam. Our friend, artist, and gallery owner, Hyland Mather, got to chat with Iverson about the upcoming show and the background of the new body of work specifically created for this showcase: Hyland Mather: Mary, the new work for ‘Correspondence’ contains some wonderful pieces where the source material is photos from the Netherlands. You’re now the second American artist we’ve shown that has done some Netherlands inspired work for a show at Andenken, Evan Hecox's ‘Canal Boat Series’ being the other. First, a cool surprise that you’re using Dutch imagery. Second, do you often try and find important source ideas from the exhibition location? Mary Iverson: I visited Amsterdam a few years ago and fell in love with the city! While touring around on bikes, it became clear to me how vulnerable the area is to sea level rise. My new work expresses my affection for the Netherlands, and my fears about its destiny in the face of climate change. I always like my work to have a connection to the exhibition venue. Before my show last year in San Francisco, I explored Point Reyes National Seashore, a beautiful protected area north of the city. The oil paintings I made of that area gave my audience the opportunity to think about their connections with the local environment. HM: The star charts... This is a new move for you. Talk to me about the development of this idea in your work. Do you have a strong working knowledge of common constellation drawings from various cultures? Is making your own constellation images  a summer camping pastime? MI: The night sky is my new infatuation. I got hooked after a trip to Crater Lake National Park this summer, when I accidentally took a somewhat decent photo of some stars above the lake. I later learned that the constellation was called “The Summer Triangle,” and this sparked my interest in the progression of the stars through the seasons. I started thinking about how the stars unite us all. Stargazing is a way to find connection with nature, and it’s accessible to everyone from anywhere in the world – it’s so democratic! The experience of learning about the stars has been profound and existential for me, and I hope that feeling comes across in my new work. HM: Speaking of camping... I think you have a solid relationship with the ‘being in nature’ thing, right? The source material stills for the three oil paintings in this show, are these images collected on personal travels? MI: For my oil paintings, an important part of my working process is visiting the places that I paint. I travel to pristine areas, camp, hike, sketch and take photographs for future paintings. Because of this, while I’m working on a painting, I can recall my experience in that place, which infuses my imagery with the joy I found there. HM: Your ongoing commentary on consumerism and the contemporary economic model... how is your stamina for this subject matter? I think the cynic in all of us has a tough time swallowing the idea that a person can ‘change the world’ for the better thru their artwork. Thankfully it hasn’t stopped Ai Weiwei, Banksy, JR and many other contemporary artists from continuing to pursue change. In your dream outcome, what effect would your work have on economic policy makers and the powers that be? Like if a room full of plutocrats suddenly adopted your commentary as a way to shape economic policy the globe over. MI: My dream would be to inspire policy makers to turbo-charge renewable energy mandates worldwide and beef up environmental protection laws. But if my work never influences anyone, it’s still important to me as an expression of my own experience and feelings, and I think it is valuable as a reflection of the times we live in. HM: What tunes do you listen to while you’re painting? MI: Radiohead, and my Miike Snow station on Pandora. HM: More and more you seem to be participating the ‘venue of the street’ as I like to call it, mural making. Tell me what it’s like for you to make large public outdoor work versus the steady and slow (read tedious) process of oil painting on canvas? MI: Mural work is more physically demanding and stressful than easel painting, but I love the community support and joy that surrounds street art. When I was in Detroit for the Murals in the Market festival, I enjoyed being part of a unique community of internationally acclaimed artists. I was star struck by the amazing artists I met, but at the same time, it felt like a family to me. I also loved interacting with the local residents who visited me at my wall. I am excited to paint more walls! HM: What’s on your event horizon? Any shouts? MI: In February, I will be doing an installation at Facebook’s Seattle Offices as part of the Facebook Artist in Residence program. My installation will be site-specific and will embrace the concept of connection - for me that means tuning into nature and balancing that connection with the digital aspects of modern life. I am honored to have a print in the Heliotrope Foundation’s next project. The Heliotrope print suite curated by 1xRun. Swoon started the Foundation “to help communities heal after natural disasters and urgent social crises.” I think my work is a great fit for this cause, and I am psyched to be a part of this special series that features only women artists. HM: Thanks Mary, it's such a treat to be able to show your work in Amsterdam. MI: Thanks Hyland! Discuss Mary Iverson here.

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