Every week I highlight a local Upper Valley artist. I give them a list of questions and they choose to answer as many of them however they'd like. I hope you enjoy meeting our local artists!
This week I'd like to introduce you to Mary Gerakaris
The Lake Effect
I have always been intrigued by the wonderful patterns and colors in both natural and man-made objects. In an effort to capture and create an amalgam of my visions, I studied art, photography and design at colleges in Milwaukee and Chicago. I always came back to photography as the most honest way to capture what I saw. I moved to New Hampshire in 1971 working through the years as a layout artist and copywriter, freelance studio photographer, therapeutic riding instructor and mother. However, I never put down my camera.
Fast forward to the digital age and freedom from the traditional dark room and chemicals. I began again to look into the “secret life” of Natural and man-made objects with a slightly different and more humble view. I found patterns in things I have looked at all my life, but am seeing now with a new vision. Nature can add a shadow here or dramatic lighting there in a confounding number of patterns and colors. I find this truly humbling and mysteriously beautiful.
In my photographs I attempt to share my vision of the mystery and beauty around us. I cannot, nor do I want to, compete with Nature, but simply freeze a special moment. I compose with my camera, altering color as minimally as possible, and occasionally eliminating it because the pattern stands by itself. Playing with size, the way the photos are mounted, printed and framed adds a little question mark...an extra hint of mystery. I hope you enjoy sharing my visions. My photos are printed on either paper or aluminum with archival inks, and are available in many custom sizes. I do all my own matting and framing for prints on paper.
How did you get started with art? Have you had any training?
I have been interested in art from an early age and studied fine art and art history at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and then graphics arts and photography in Chicago.
When did you first define yourself as an artist?
I guess I have always considered myself an artist since college.
Do you make art for a living? If so, for how long have you been about to do that?
That certainly is a goal, but like most artists, I have to work to support my habit.
What jobs have you had other than being an artist? If you don’t make your living doing art, what do you do in “real life”?
Well, I was a bookkeeper and store clerk while I was going to school. When I moved to NH in 1971 I held various jobs as a copywriter for an import catalog, freelance studio photographer, therapeutic riding instructor for 20 years and a substitute teacher…oh yes, and most importantly, a mother.
How much time do you spend doing art? How do you work? Do you have a routine?
That is hard to say as I just go out with my camera - at times for the whole day. I often just stop to take a photo on my way to somewhere because I see a pattern in something that intrigues me.
A New Leaf
Where do you work? What is your studio/space like?
Anywhere I go is a possible “art studio”. I do have a room on our property where I matte and frame photographs.
What are your passions outside of art? What’s something non-creative that you do to balance and recharge?
Horseback riding (dressage in particular) and gardening. I lose myself in both of these activities.
What medium/media do you use? Why do you like it/them?
Digital photography even though when I went to school, it was all film…it has just been an honest way for me to record the beauty and patterns that I see in natural and man-made items.
What medium have you tried that you don’t like?
I can honestly say that I like all media…it’s just that I am not very good at some of them. So, instead of spreading myself too thin and dabbling in several things, I just stick to my passion.
If you had only one kind of art supply to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What do you do with pieces you don’t like?
If it’s a framed piece printed on paper, I can reuse the frame and sometimes the matte. I have done that a lot with several of my earlier “learning” photographs. I have been having a lot of my pieces lately printed on aluminum, and I’m generally pleased with them all. But, if I don’t like one…well it’s there forever.
Creation and Inspiration
Where do you get your ideas? How do you get started on a piece? How do you know when you’re done?
Ideas just present themselves. I usually have no preconceived notion of what I will photograph. I am very detail oriented, so often see a great photo in something that most people would just walk right by.
What/who inspires you?
A lot of my natures photos are inspired by Georgia O’Keefe. I have always loved her paintings. It’s funny, as much as I think the work of past and contemporary photographers is amazing, I am inspired more by painters, especially abstract painters like Cezanne, Kandinsky, Klee, Matisse, Magritte. There are many more whose names have escaped me. I also admire the wonderful color theory established by Josef Albers.
What’s the best thing about being an artist? What’s the worse?
The best…being able to think creatively in many situations and being able to see beauty in so many things. The worst…always having to promote yourself (I hate having to do this) and getting used to the fact that there are many people who don’t like your work.
What makes you unique as an artist?
I believe my ability to see patterns and beauty in often mundane things.
How do you get past a creative block?
Ride a horse or garden for awhile.
What is your dream project?
To have a show of all of my abstractions on metal in a large city like NYC, Boston or Los Angeles.
What are your fears as an artist?
That I won’t sell anything?
What’s the best piece of advice (or a quote) you’ve been given regarding art and creativity?
Ahh…a quote from Albert Einstein - “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
Crossing the Waters
About Art and Artists
What do people not realize about being an artist?
How much education, time and thought goes into creating a piece of art. It has been my observation that most people are not willing to pay for this.
What do you think are the qualities that define an artist?
Creativity, patience and the ability to see what many people miss.
What do you admire in other artists?
Their ability to create beauty. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of creativity there is just in the Upper Valley!
Is there an artist you particularly admire/emulate/enjoy? Why?
Locally, I’d rather not say, because I know that it could cause a bit of hard feelings…Goodness knows we artists are sensitive enough ;-)
Sharing Your Art
Do you accept commissions? What is the process for working with you to create a custom piece?
Yes, I do accept commissions. This is usually done by someone choosing a photo from my website and we go from there. I have also presented a body of images to someone who has a particular style in mind and they choose from that.
Do you offer classes/workshops? If so, what kind and where?
I have done two classes for Osher on photography. They were geared toward learning photographic terminology, understanding camera settings and basic composition theory.
Where is your favorite place to take a class/workshop (locally or otherwise)?
Honestly, I do most of my research online and belong to a few online forums that keep me updated on latest cameras, equipment and photographers.
Where can we find you/your work?
- Exhibits: I currently have a solo exhibit at Downs, Rachlin & Martin law offices in Lebanon, NH; Two pieces at the AVA Gallery summer juried show; One piece at the Naples Art Association Camera USA exhibit in Naples, FL
- Website: www.maryg-photo.com
- Instagram: @maryg_photo
- Facebook: Mary Gerakaris, artist and photographer
Would you like to be featured in "Meet the Local Artist"? Email Amy at RVCAmy at gmail dot com
Last Week's Interview - Greg Stott, Acrylic Artist
Next Week's Interview - Robin Nuse, Oils and Pastels
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More about the author, Amy Fortier: Her Artist Interview