The interview is live! Mary-Ann Prack and I began talking late last year about her beautiful sculptures, and she kindly agreed to an interview here. As a painter and sculptor, Mary-Ann creates amazing works of art, as you will see in the photos below. I admire how she has created a career devoted to the arts and have no doubt this interview will inspire many to pursue their creative dreams as she has done.
Disclosure: This sponsored post spotlights Mary-Ann’s inspiration and accomplishments, brings attention to the artistic process and shows how this female artist has crafted a successful career.
Interview with Mary-Ann Prack
“My sculpture plays with the architecture of the human figure and reflects the joy of the human spirit.” – Mary-Ann Prack
What led you to begin sculpting? When did you begin doing so professionally?
My appreciation of art and particularly sculpture developed from an early age. I grew up in Canada in a very creative home environment surrounded by artists, architects, engineers and great art. This part of my life continues to influence how I see the world, appreciate and respond to it.
I watched my father design beautiful buildings utilizing architectural drawings, renderings and models. This exposure is reflected in the architectural elements of my sculpture.
My mother introduced me to sculpting in clay as I modeled for her as a child. These early influences are what initially drew me to sculpture and a realization of how important it is for me to discover the ‘essence’ of who I am in this life. I feel blessed to be able to connect with mine every day through my art.
I thought I was giving up my dream of becoming an artist by leaving the University of Guelph in Canada to study interior design in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Being an interior designer positively influenced my future sculptures and paintings.
I attended ceramic sculpture classes at Florida Atlantic University to satisfy my passion for fine art while designing interiors. I experienced an immediate connection with the medium of clay, intuitively developing a unique, distinctive style that continues to evolve and excite me today.
In the mid 80’s, I began exhibiting my sculpture at art festivals in Florida. At the time, it was great exposure and experience in dealing with collectors.
A few years later, I had my first solo exhibition at the Raleigh Gallery in Florida. This was a turning point when I decided to become a full-time artist. Since then, I have had gallery representation in the United States and Canada with numerous solo and group exhibitions, awards, and placement in many private and corporate collections.
You choose clay as your medium of choice for sculpture. Please share why.
My sculptures are personified with the use of intense colors and sharply defined geometric shapes tensioned against sensuous organic forms and surfaces. Although my sculptures share similar characteristics, each stands alone in the world, as no two are alike. All express my appreciation of the profound differences between us.
Beautiful. Aside from sculpture, what are your other creative practices?
Creativity is an integral part of my life for which I am extremely grateful.
I believe my creative passion is due to having multiple art forms to work with, beginning with sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, and, in more subtle forms, the presentation of my artwork, living spaces and even how I dress … to me, it is all ART!
Mary-Ann Prack, what inspires you to create new art?
The creative process itself inspires me. I love the process as much as the outcome.
Each artwork is different from the next, it’s about letting go of the final outcome and seeing where the sculpture, painting, or drawing takes me. I find this method of working very exciting and fulfilling. I don’t wait for inspiration to happen it is there to tap into as I create.
Working alone is important for me in order to be totally present. My imagination and experience take me to places that travel or museums cannot fulfill. Though I would like to do more of both. Belief in my abilities and determination to challenge myself and the materials is part of it too.
Self-belief really can take us far. What do you hope others get out of your artistic work?
I hope people are inspired, uplifted and experience something new with each work of art or each time they look at a sculpture or painting they have chosen to live with. Ideally, I’d like my art to continue to excite and be meaningful for generations.
I hope pleasure is found in the craftsmanship of my sculpture, the engineering involved, attention to detail, and precision of my line work, glazing techniques and finishes. Years of experience are in each new sculpture I create.
They have an energy and sense of timelessness, with their own unique personalities. Ultimately, I hope my art makes people feel good about humanity.
Mary-Ann Prack, as a female sculptor, do you find stereotypes and biases exist in the art world?
There is less bias now toward female sculptors than when I began sculpting forty years ago. We are rarely referred to as ‘sculptresses’ which is a good sign.
It is somewhat understandable that men in the past dominated the sculpture scene since mediums such as marble, heavy steel, etc. required muscle strength, heavy equipment to move the sculpture, etc. Many women have since shown they, too, can handle the heavy lifting, though the biases go far deeper than the handling of sculpture mediums.
On a positive note, there has been a much-needed shift in attitudes toward women and what we are capable of. My use of clay as a sculpture medium may have added to any bias against me early on, as it was not taken seriously as a finished sculpture medium until fairly recently. So the attitude toward materials has changed as well.
How have you dealt with the problem?
I try not to compare myself to others or take rejection or missed opportunities personally. I have entered competitions and won numerous awards for my sculpture competing with men. I prefer to compete with myself, not others, and am happy for the successes of any artist as I know what it takes to be one!
My relatively recent exposure on social media to a wider national and international audience has given me more exposure and opportunities to connect with people who are interested in my art and not so much with my gender or age.
Is ageism an issue, in your opinion?
Ageism was an issue in my twenties and thirties as I felt my youth and looks were a factor in my not being taken seriously as a sculptor. Ageism in terms of maturity may be a problem for artists when dealing with gallery representation or collectors as some galleries prefer younger, less established artists whose art is less expensive and possibly easier to sell.
Once again, I choose not to dwell on what others think or be apologetic about my age since I am as enthusiastic and prolific as I was in my thirties. I am also extremely grateful for the life I’ve lived, especially growing up in the late fifties, sixties and seventies … one of the greatest times to be alive in terms of art, music and culture. There were problems then, as there always will be.
What needs to happen, in your opinion, for gender parity to happen in the art industry?
Fortunately, gender parity is closer today than it has ever been, female artists are being recognized in the art world in much greater numbers. We are going in the right direction. However, if parity is forced to happen and women are given special advantages over men or anyone else, this will also be unfair.
I believe if the success of an artist is based upon the ART, not the ARTIST, in terms of gender, age, race, education, connections, etc., the outcome may be much different and closer to parity. The reality is “life is not always fair” no matter who you are.
What do you see in the future in terms of your sculpture?
Creating monumental size sculptures is a vision I have had since becoming a sculptor. I’m now pursuing this direction as I believe size does make a difference in terms of exposure, recognition and success as a sculptor.
The sculptures will be in metal from approximately 15 to 40 ft. in height and require collaboration with an outside foundry or fabricator. This way of working will be challenging as I will not have the hands-on control over each part of the artistic process that I have valued since I began sculpting in clay.
Moving to a monumental scale will also require communicating through models, maquettes, drawings, and verbal instruction; then entrusting my design to a fabricator to execute exactly what I envision. The sculptures will be commissioned as new designs or modeled after an existing sculpture of mine.
My Sculpture + Paintings may be viewed by appointment at my Studio/Gallery/Sculpture Garden in Jefferson, NC
All photos used with the permission of Mary-Ann Prack