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Meet Mary Lou Zelazny

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Lou Zelazny.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up surrounded by artists or would-be artists. My great-grandfather constructed miniature church replicas in his kitchen and my grandmother and aunts all had a compulsion to alter or remodel every item that came into their homes. Clothing and accessories, home furnishings, interiors and exteriors; all were subject to enhancement via paint, glue, or whatever else was at hand. Transformation and reinvention surrounded me and became part of everyday life. I found these creative currents to be a source of fascination and inspiration. Although these ‘improvements’ were sometimes dubious, the results were always a delight. My grandmother’s instinctive and native creative life, as a natural outgrowth of her personality, was very formative for my understanding of the meaning of art and the maker of art. Cutting and reassembling, scavenging and reinvention have remained a constant in my life and studio: a natural continuation of my eccentric heritage.

Please tell us about your art.
My paintings are principally oil or acrylic combined with mixed media and collage. I also occasionally do plein-air study paintings that do not contain collage. Over the past forty years my subjects have ranged from the imaginary (dreamscapes, illusions and myths) to the mundane (figuration, interiors, tools, vessels, fabric and the natural world of plants and animals.)

Contemporary art as well as the accumulated art historical archive provides me with a research library that is the source of what is commonly designated with the quasi-mystical term ‘inspiration.’ Study of and exposure to these accumulated artistic investigations through the centuries is analogous to the research scientist whose work partakes of her many predecessors.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Admittedly this is received wisdom, but young artists and especially students must realize that art-making rarely pays the bills. The artist needs a ‘day job’ but one that does not consume all of one’s time and energy; this balance is the origin of the artist’s dilemma of art vs bread. It is crucial that the budding artist establish steady, recurrent work habits, as if they were practicing a musical instrument. This is where the myth of ‘inspiration’ can be most damaging; the passive wait for divine afflatus while skill and facility wither. I don’t intend for this talk of work, habit, and practice to drain art-making of its motivating essence – that it arises out of joy, mischief, sheer delight and unadulterated fun.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
A broad history of my artwork dating to the 1980s can be seen at I am represented by the Carl Hammer Gallery, 740 N Wells St, Chicago, where you can see several of my recent paintings in the non-virtual, analog, real-world sense.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portrait photo by Jorge Colombo. Art photography by Tom Van Eynde

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  1. Mark Piucci

    August 27, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    A bout your recent handiwork. I saw two recent images of hands!! Got to ‘hand’ it to you. Fore the Fave Moment , solid!

  2. Mark Piucci

    August 27, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Solid! Gotta ‘hand’ it to you.Saw two images of hands. Love lots the differences in textures like the skin and the texture of the ground down substance

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