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Mary Farmer: The Encaustic Painter Fighting for Social Justice
Episode 10819th January 2021 • Not Real Art • Crewest Studio
00:00:00 01:05:41

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Art is important for more reasons than will ever be possible to count. From aiding cognitive development and critical thinking skills to beautifying the world we live in, art matters to us all. Today’s guest, Mary Farmer, is an internationally-recognized encaustic painter based in Asheville, North Carolina, whose work creates a portal into a timeless, transcendent state of consciousness. Interestingly, Mary’s paintings serve as a counterbalance to her firebrand spirit. Tireless in her pursuit of liberty and equity, she has put herself in harm’s way time during her lifelong fight for social justice and women’s rights. In this episode, we hear about Mary’s life, what growing up in Alabama was like, and some of the admirable work she has done establishing abortion clinics in the South. Mary then shares details about her art practice, including insights into the encaustic technique, where wax – rather than oil or water – is used to carry pigment. We find out how she came to choose this method and the different relationship she has with her work as a result. Our conversation also touches on the business side of an art career, why artists should not shy away from this, and the power of language in reframing arguments to enable change. Be sure to tune in today!


Key Points From This Episode:

  • How Mary and her husband dealt with the shutdown and how it affected her art practice.
  • The strength that Mary found when she was able to vocalize her sexual assault.
  • Why Mary is such a strong advocate for school nurses and counselors.
  • Mary’s experience of going to school in Alabama the year public schools were integrated.
  • Why Mary had to leave Alabama as soon as she could.
  • The contrast between Mary’s firebrand spirit and her soothing, calming art.
  • Hear about some of the work Mary has done for women’s reproductive rights.
  • Beautiful things that have happened in Mary’s community before and during the pandemic.
  • What Mary’s studio practice looks like and how she structures her days and workflow.
  • An explanation of the encaustic painting technique and how Mary discovered it.
  • Why encaustic has taught Mary to not make assumptions and preconceived notions.
  • The main thorn in Mary’s side as an artist – Why she hates writing artist statements.
  • How the business side of Mary’s art practice has improved over the years.
  • Mary’s strategies and tips for avoiding exploitation as an artist.
  • Why having a clear business plan as an artist is so empowering.
  • The incredible contribution that art makes to all of our lives.
  • What Mary has gained from Asheville, a city with such a rich culture.
  • This scarcity mindset that is so prevalent pits us all up against one another.
  • Language matters; it is important to reframe arguments to get things done.
  • Moving artworks is an art form in itself, so you have to find people who know what they’re doing.

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