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Maureen Delaney

Maureen Delaney

Enamored with these wonderful paintings by Maureen Delaney! Currently pursuing an MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art, she's preparing a thesis that is influenced by poetry and the relationship of emotion and thoughts to chromatic changes and movement in her painting compositions. More at the links below!

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First, tell me a bit about yourself! When were you first introduced to painting, or art-making, as something you were interested in pursuing?

I was innately drawn to painting and my parents didn’t dissuade me from it. Looking back I have always processed thought, curiosity, and emotion metaphorically through material, visually through modeling, and have retained personal memories as palettes, moods, or atmospheres rather than narratives. So by nature this way of processing experience lends itself to the arts and particularly abstraction. Thinking and communicating that way has always felt really true and important to me as storytelling of a different kind.

You're currently pursuing your MFA at MICA; how has that been so far? What are your thoughts on your art education so far?

I guess the value of an art education is based on what you need as an artist. I think going into the application process I realized mentorship would have a lot to do with my experience and also proximity to New York was a priority for easy enough traveling to see shows. I had a great feeling about MICA after interviewing with the director, who is a keenly perceptive artist and intellectual and someone who I'm thrilled to be studying with. The program is small and everyone is a painter which allows us a depth of focus and conversation. 

Is there anything you've been particularly glad for, or wish that you would have seen more of?

The chemistry that rises between everyone in the studios is one of those invaluable perks. Its fair to say we may have all lost our minds without one another. More time would be great!

Can you tell me about your practice? Are there any particular themes or ideas that your paintings point to or are influenced by?

Poetry has been a major inspiration. Will Alexander’s poems are fantastically visual and strange - I would highly recommend them. There is an element of estrangement that is essential to abstraction. The same seems true for poetry as it relates to language that we know and use regularly. A poet activates the dormant or undiscovered possible in language. This is a sensation that I search for when painting. 

The idea I’ve been thinking about recently is related to how to give form to and escape the confines of ideology. My inquiry into how a single gestured color operates in a constellation of marks activates through alternating color’s use as perspectival, emotional, and symbolic agent. It’s meaning and function are at all times relative to how the viewer associates it with other parts of the painting. In this way I grapple with the conditions of parsing out what may serve or subvert potent moments within a whole of dizzying chromatic overtones - evocative of associative navigation through sensorial, psychological, and pathological environments.

Ultimately I think about this work as a field providing multiple possible thoughtscapes to be associatively navigated, dismantled, and reassembled in the mind. It’s a playground open to the possibilities of how interrelation can be observed and reimagined - sustained by delusions of pleasure, always flirting with the edge of fallibility.

What is your process like? How much do you plan ahead before starting a new piece?

Both my drawings and paintings begin with writing I suppose. I usually will have read something that left me with a thought to mull over. Then I’ll make associative scribbles of words and phrases that accumulate into a mood which contributes to a lot of how the structure and color will unfold in my work. I usually do 10-30 fully finished drawings before I take on a new series of paintings. Every piece is improvisational.

What is your studio space or workspace like?

It is just a complete frenzy of books, papers, and coffee cups- but the natural light is wonderful.

Is there a tool or an object in your studio that you couldn't live without?

Music and natural light are the most important elements!

What is the best advice you've received so far? Is there any advice you've received that you've been glad you decided not to take?

If there is a quality of your work that is in question but feels essential, ruthlessly investigate what it is you’re trying to say. Maybe the core of what is guiding your hand just hasn’t been articulated to yourself enough to be literate to someone else. So test it, stretch it - learn the contours of your kind before you discard what may be your most authentic quality. 

What do you consider "success" to be as an artist?

When the sensory language of a piece bafflingly communicates the poetics of the artists point of view, whatever it is, that is success to me and an experience I hope for when looking at work.

What do you consider to be the most challenging thing about working as an artist or pursuing art?

I think there is an inevitable precariousness that goes along with being an artist professionally. Being in the beginning stages of a professional career, the idea of how I can sustain creative clarity while working really hard in and outside of the art world seems important. So I try to locate the fertility of precariousness and tension and through those shifts in perspective I oftentimes find traction where it rationally should not exist. Tension can be weirdly generative. 

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently working on?

I’m currently working on a thesis exhibition, catalog, and presentation which will be in late April. The catalog design process has been so fun! Considering how the work can still communicate, out of context, in the form of a book has really opened up how I can to understand the work itself (such a great studio exercise.) It will be in print but I’ll also be adding a pdf version to my website so feel free to check it out later this Spring! 

Anything else you would like to add?

Im just going to recommend Will Alexander’s work again! Thank you, Kate,  for your thoughtful questions!

Find more at maureen-delaney.com and on Instagram @maureen_delaney!

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