Q&A with Mari
1. What is your area of focus as an artist?
My focus currently is the young adult fantasy genre and fairy-tale themed ink watercolor illustrations. God has also led me into bracelet making as a ministry. Previously, I wrote a book of poetry “ Let the Owls have the Night," and created charcoal portraits and chalk pastel abstracts.
2. How did you get started in your field? Who or what has helped shape your pursuit of excellence in your art?
When I was five, I looked up into the sky and thought the moon looked like a banana. I wrote and illustrated a story about black ants attacking a banana at a picnic, inducing the frightened banana to leap into the sky. I've been writing ever since then. I read a lot of Arthurian legend in grade school, and wrote the following poem in sixth grade. It won an award and publication, but at the time, I fudged my age to qualify, so I never recovered rights to the publication. Still, like my moon story, this poem shows that my art has always been a drive to understand human existence, how the world works, and why circumstances are the way they are:
Because I Am a Knight
I am a knight. I am a knight.
The Bishop is praying in the cathedral
while I am fighting in this war,
while the wealthy count their riches,
because I am a knight.
I see a man fall to the ground,
I hear a wicked laugh,
doth not the scriptures say,
“ Thou shalt not kill a man?"
So why all this corruption?
Why all these wicked deeds?
Am I really keeping my honor,
doing as they please?
I am a knight. I am a knight.
All good gifts come from God. He is the most creative being in existence now and forever; I strive for excellence to make God proud and be a good steward over the small talents he gave me.
3. What are some themes or motifs that appear in your work?
Good ole “good vs. evil," “learning to dance in the dark," “overcoming personal darkness," “finding a place to belong," “discovering who you were created to be," -- all those tried and true themes!
4. Where do you go for inspiration?
For inspiration I go out into nature. I'm an Emerson girl, someone who believes nature is a way to connect with God. Like Mary Poppins jumping into a painting, going out into nature is stepping into a magical world created by God. At my day job I'm a teacher, and I find that my students also inspire me on a frequent basis.
5. How has your faith shaped the development of your art?
God is the ultimate writer of happily ever after. All literature puts forth some sort of perspective on human existence: why are we alive? What is our purpose? How should we be? Too many tales today are rooted in post-modern theories of existence: Morality is subjective, all endings are bittersweet, there is no such thing as a hero worth believing in. These are lies woven into our culture, but God has proven them wrong. As someone who believes in absolute Truth and sees all our lives as stories being written by God, a most merciful author, I will write happy endings for all my stories and shape my illustrations to bring delight to viewers.
6. What role do you hope your art will play in the renaissance of the Christian imagination, and in encouraging and serving others?
My desire is that my art will encourage people to realize that as beings created in the image of God, we too are creative by nature—all of us! I also would like my art to give people hope by the stories told, as they are patterns of the story Jesus tells in our own lives.
7. Where can we find your work?