I was so fortunate to have recently discovered Mary's work through Stephanie Walker, the passionate and extremely talented owner of Walker Contemporary and art expert and who I'm so thrilled to say we will both be collaborating with in showing our work through her new gallery in Waitsfield, VT.
Mary's work immediately stunned me with its incredibly detailed and intricate that designs that are so fully of complexity they draw you in with their beauty. Her work is inspired by flora, fauna and the "unpredictable and wild side of nature."
"I am interested in a beauty that is blatantly sensuous, unapologetically pretty, boldly decorative, and aggressively feminine. These pieces embody the spirit of a gaudy chandelier dripping with crystals and lights, a blinding, ridiculous beauty that attracts and repels." - Mary O'Malley
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an artist! I was very shy as a child, and making art was the way I communicated with the world (I suppose it still is now!)
The unexpected art supply you can’t live without…
When I was in grad school, I had a professor who encouraged me to draw more (I was a painter) and to draw with materials I didn’t like or didn’t normally use, to jolt me out of my comfort zone. I started playing around with anything I could find to draw with, and one of these unlikely tools was a gel pen. It completely changed my work and my practice. I never thought I would make work with what is essentially a craft tool, especially because I was a traditionally trained oil painter, but it was just what I needed to make everything click, and I haven’t made a piece without them since.
Favorite contemporary artist/s
So many artists’ work inspires me, and what resonates with me is always changing! Lately I’ve been especially drawn to the work of German-based illustrator Olaf Hajek, Betsy Walton, Anne Siems, and Darren Waterston. Old favorites include Kiki Smith, Terry Winters, and Louise Bourgeois.
How do you feed your head? (What inspires you?)
Anything and everything: nature, pattern and surface design, color, botanical illustration, interior design, architecture, etc. I keep photo albums stuffed with images from magazines, pulled from the internet, my own photos, etc., that I use as reference and inspiration.
What's inspiring you at the moment?
Right now, I’m looking at a lot of pattern and surface design; pattern has always been part of my work, and next I’ll be focusing on creating my own patterns for fabric, wallpaper, etc.
Fear in art, how do you fight it?
The only way to fight is to keep pushing through; it may always be there in one form or another, but you can’t let it stop you. I think it’s important to have a regular practice to keep yourself ‘in shape’ so to speak to ward off the fear, and also if you have a bad day in the studio, you are less likely to be discouraged if you know you’ll be back at it the next day.
Always something black; and I don’t feel fully dressed without some kind of jewelry on.
What you wish you had known when you were just starting out:
I wish I had known that there is no one way to do things, that right and wrong don’t exist in art, and to be less afraid of my own voice. But I suppose it’s all part of the journey that gets you to where you are and makes things interesting…
On the nightstand... (What are you reading?)
Currently, ‘The Golden Age of Flowers’ by Celia Fisher and a book about Maria Sibylla Merian, an inspiring botanical illustrator and woman. I’m a coffee-table book addict.
What’s next? Project you are currently working on…
Right now, I’m working on some new ideas for pattern-based works on paper, pattern designs, and also a very exciting commission project that I need to keep secret for the moment! When it’s complete I will be posting about it and sharing photos on my blog so stay tuned: www.maryomalleyart.com/blog