A presentation given by artist, author and educator Mary Stewart captivated St. Mary’s students and faculty last Thursday evening.
Stewart has been painting and drawing since she was a child. She said, “My father only allowed [my brother and I] to watch an hour of T.V a day…so I just drew.” She is currently interested in visual narrative and stop-motion animation.
Stewart creates her masterpieces through the fusion of several different techniques, including photography, printmaking, painting, and drawing. Despite these techniques, Stewart explained that the most common strategy she used was visual narrative. She said, “Instead of having just one image try to say what I want to say, I use about six to 10 images in a series or in a visual book.”
Paintings that Stewart presented included “The Child Within,” a linoleum print, “Losing all Senses,” black pastel on white paper, and “The Sky Explodes,” one of eight images that make up the “Apocalypse Series.” Stewart’s inspiration for this painting, she explained, was the book entitled “Killing Mr. Watson.”
Dorothy Fisher, a first-year student at St. Mary’s who plans to major in art history, enjoyed Stewart’s talk. She said, “it was very interesting to hear first-hand from an artist about their processes and the thinking behind their work.”
Senior Jason Hurley also enjoyed the talk. “She made everything visceral,” he said. “When you go to create things, just crank it out…just draw. Don’t try to make amazing art. Just do what you do best.”
Stewart continues painting, she said, because “it is a unique, compelling language that can reach all sorts of audiences, and is an extremely powerful form of communication.”
Stewart is the Foundations Program Director for the Art Department at Florida State University and is the Vice President for Regional Coordinators for F.A.T.E, the national organizations for foundations teaching. She received her BFA from the University of New Mexico and earned her MFA from the University of Indiana Bloomington. She attended the University of New Mexico to learn about lithography, an obscure form of printmaking.
After graduating, Stewart taught at Dickinson College for three years, and then moved on to teach at Syracuse University and Northern Illinois University. She is currently a professor at Florida State University, and has been working there for four years. She has written several visual books, including “Suite Briar Visual Book,” “Labyrinth Book” and “The Pursuit of Knowledge.”