I keep them in my bathroom.
For most of the summer there it is: a mason jar filled milkweed. Caterpillars in various stages of their life-cycle, munching away. I have them in my bathroom so I can shut the door - to keep them in - and the cats out. But the door usually gets left open.
I tend to count them whenever I go in the room. Has a new one hatched? Are they all here?
I discover one is missing, and a heaviness settles in my heart. I count and re-count. It's not there.
Several days later, I find a caterpillar on the stairs. Quite a long journey from the bathroom for such a small creature. I gently scoop it up and bring it back to the milkweed. When I set it on a leaf, it curls up. It doesn't move.
Starved to death.
My heart aches.
I could have done more to prevent this from happening.
Your White Fragility
by Mary Pow
Are you fragile –
Will you break?
An ooey gooey egg.
Ooze into a hole,
And hide away.
Or is it possible –
Perhaps I’m wrong?
Your fist raised high
You find you’re strong.
And you uncurl.
Your shell is cracked,
You stand up tall.
That precious shell,
The pieces fall.
Thank God, they fall.
Released from shame,
You say his name
Again, “George Floyd”
And you move forward.
Look at you –
You’re in the street.
That shell is crushed
Beneath your feet.
And your eyes open.
Silence does harm,
You see. You warn,
“I won’t stay silent.”
You are reborn.
Cracked is a painting that I completed in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, which happened only a few miles away from my home. While I worked on this painting, I simultaneously wrote the poem Your White Fragility. These two works are entwined.
The poem Your White Fragility, along with the painting Cracked equals a third work entitled Your White Fragility, Cracked. This artwork is intended to be a piece about the promise of change.
My Art for Social Distancing project - Portrait of a Quarantine - is finished! Thank you to all of you who participated in my quarantine project by submitting photos of your experience during lockdown due to the Coronavirus.
During the past three months I completed 12 paintings for this project, and in the process raised over $600. Half of these funds went to the Emergency Relief Fund for Artists and the other half went to support my studio. I am so grateful for your support during this time.
Portrait of a Quarantine
Things have been challenging, but I hope my project spread a little bit of joy.
It's been my long-time dream to have a studio in the historic Northrup King Building. I didn't think it would ever happen. But, when the quarantine drastically prohibited me from working in my own crowded home, I realized the time had come to move...
You can visit my new studio and gallery!
I will be open to the public for Open Studio Saturdays every Saturday from 12-4pm, starting July 11th.
I'll have original art for sale (both textiles and pastel paintings), as well as note cards, prints, handbags, and more.
I'll forgo the by-now tired phrases such as "well, things sure have changed..." and get right to the nitty gritty: this has been hard. Extremely, depressingly hard. Frankly, having an entire season (possibly two or more) of art shows cancelled at a time when I was diving into them as my main source of income has been incredibly difficult for me to process.
But, I'm not in this alone - I know it's been hard for every artist out there, and you, and everyone you know, as well.
In order to move forward from the sad reality that I currently have no way to sell my art in person for the foreseeable future, I've decided to create something to share with my community: an artist response project.
Quarantine Portraits - Art for Social Distancing
I've been working all weekend on setting up this idea that has gotten me excited again. Someone once said "creativity thrives in the midst of chaos" - well, we'll see how it goes!
My response project is aimed to help those of us stuck at home to get through the COVID-19 quarantines. I hope to spread a little joy in this difficult stay-at-home time. I also am looking to raise funds for my art studio and other artists affected by the pandemic. (Donate here)
At the end of all this I should have an art exhibit to share with my community.
Stay safe, be healthy, wash your hands!
The best part of being an artist is also the hardest part of being an artist: there is no job description.
You get to make up the job yourself! - but - you also have to make it up yourself. It's amazingly freeing to be able to figure out for yourself who you are as an artist, but it's also incredibly challenging and terrifying to do this. Yes: both, and. At the same time.
A traditional job comes with a built-in job description. You know what is expected of you in that part of your life. When you're at work, your job is to do A, B, C.
This is a list of some important points I want to remember. A rough draft of my "job" description.
This is my life as an artist; and it's a constant work in progress.
MinneBites Will Be Retiring
After 9 long years of hand-crafting MinneBites bags & cases for amazing people all over the world, I've decided to retire this line of work so I can devote more time to my fine art.
Shop Closing Sale
Starting December 16, everything in my Etsy shop will be discounted! Find great deals and get your favorite designs before they're gone!
If you’d like to get updates about the clearance sale, please join my newsletter where I'll be announcing sale prices, when I add new items to the sale (I have some photography to do!), and special deals!
It may seem a little sad to retire this whimsical line of bags and cases, but I'm actually very excited to evolve and grow with my textile and pastel art. I have so many goals and plans in the works for the new year! I truly hope you'll stay tuned for what's to come. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at @marypowdesigns to stay up to date with the latest behind-the-scenes info!
Thank you so much for your business and support of MinneBites over the past nine years!
I'm working on another painting about the line between imagination and reality. This is something that has always interested me, but more and more lately I'm understanding what it's all about for me. I've come to believe that, if we practice thinking differently, we will see that the solid walls that form barriers in our lives, are actually bars that we can slip between.
As children, we're so connected to our imaginations. Magic is real, unicorns and fairies really do exist. We're filled with wonder about the world and excited because we know anything is possible. I'm reading "The Secret Garden" to my daughter and it's this idea, that there's something magical and secret lying in wait just behind the wall that I'm really interested in conveying in my art.
As we grow up, we have to learn the rules. We're taught the structure of society, the way things need to be, and we learn our place within that structure. Rules are necessary, of course, but we forget that all things are possible. The rules forms walls around us that we think are real and solid. We live with those wall surrounding us for so long that we aren't able to see any other way. They are our reality.
It takes a new kind of thinking to snap us out of our adulthood, to give us back our imaginations and to realize the rules are just rules, not walls. In fact, if we remember how to truly see the possibilities, how to follow our hearts, we'll find a key. If we listen to ourselves, deep inside, we'll find the door. We can get through the wall, to a secret place that was there all along, just waiting to be discovered.
Here's what I'm reading and listening to as I work on my current artwork.
The Man with the Blue Guitar by Wallace Stevens
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens
Between the Bars by Elliot Smith
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Blackbird by The Beatles
This piece is now finished! After struggling with two title ideas, I decided to go with "Between the Bars". The original is available, prints will be available at some point. Contact me for details.
The idea for "Possibilities" came to me while I was on a walk. I was taking a break from another painting of this same girl, getting some exercise and reflecting on things.
I know how important it is to get outside, to free my mind while moving my body. I quite often discover a new perspective on a problem while I'm on a walk or run. So, when a vision for this painting popped into my head while I was walking, I laughed out loud, because how funny - it seemed so, almost predictable, actually.
"Possibilities" in Progress
I thought it might be interesting to show the progression of creating this piece. This is my largest pastel painting to date and it was, to be honest, a little brain-straining. I really enjoyed creating it, but I had to step back and take a lot of breaks from it so I could keep my original vision clear through to the end.
Material Honesty is a term I learned while studying architecture at the University of Washington, Seattle. They were very big on teaching us future architects how to be true to our building materials.
Although I'm not designing buildings now, I do think about material honesty quite a bit while I work. I've come to love the idea of hinting at my process and using materials in the way that works best for them.
Using the idea of Material Honesty in my art
If I'm using pastels atop a colored paper, then when I'm finished I feel that one should be able to determine that I used pastels and a colored paper for the piece.
Here are some ways that I accomplish the idea of material honesty with pastels, illustrated with details from my artwork "I Dare You".
Being expressive; not photo-realistic
For me, my art is about expressing a mood and getting at the heart of what inspired me in a subject in the first place. For the painting shown here, I had taken multiple photos of my model. In one of the photos, her eyes really drew me in. They seemed to be almost daring me, the viewer, to take her on. I absolutely love the strong, determined expression on her face. Of course, the gorgeous sunlit hair only added to my desire to paint the image.
I'm not interested in creating a photographic replica with my work. It's much more interesting to me to express myself and the media I'm using. For this piece, I used a specific set of colors and very expressive mark-making to get those original inspirations down on the paper. In the end, I do feel that I captured the ideas that prompted me to paint this image in the first place.
With each new piece I paint, I'm learning more and more about pastels and their specific abilities. I hope to continue to add to my list of ways to use them honestly.
Of course, the best thing about art is there are so many different ways to approach it! What do you think? Do you think it's important for artists to be "honest" with their materials? When is it fun to fool people by being "dishonest" with materials? 😄
I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.