Marta Mazur is a local painter, poet, and the latest artist to be featured in our ongoing exhibition series Local Art @ EPL. Her exhibit Life in the Rush is currently on display on the 2nd floor of EPL’s Main Library where you can catch it through April 28th. Featuring a striking mix of abstract oils, pencil and charcoal drawings, and original poetry, her show strives “to understand difficult issues and take a hard look at society.” You can see more of Ms. Mazur’s work by visiting her website, and we recently spoke with her via email about her artistic origins, her poetry, and her commitment to social activism.
Evanston Public Library: Can you tell us a little about your background as an artist? How did you get started in art? Was there something specific in your life that sparked a need to create? What drove you in the beginning? What drives you now?
Marta Mazur: When I was a very young woman I appreciated art for its beauty. The idea of art seemed so perfect at that time that it became an escape from reality. As I matured, I realized that beauty in itself is unreliable because it may lure you to a make believe world of disconnection and isolation.
My main goal is to encompass experience on all levels: the philosophy, the spirit, the content, and the form. But to do so I first needed to understand myself in order to understand art and then the world. World events, the art I create, and the work I do are all one. Every one of these experiences is interwoven and cannot exist without another.
My first job back in Poland was a textile artist, and my first job in the U.S. was a silk painter. I came to America to study art, and I finished many courses at the Art Institute of Chicago and Oakton Community College while also taking private instruction. In the end, to support my family, I became a nurse and presently I work for Journey Care Hospice.
My hospice nursing has become such a strong identity that even my art is filtered through its prism. The suffering, the inevitability of the human condition, sickness and lack of hope must guide us to reevaluate our values. It is difficult to shed strong convictions acquired through culture and family, but it is also liberating to face the truth and accept the world as is. With great anticipation and joy I follow social movements and find encouragement that I am not alone but a part of a bigger humanity.
EPL: How do you describe your paintings? Do you see yourself as fitting in with any particular artistic movements or styles?
MM: Many people may find my work abstract, but curiously I consider all my newer piece realistic. They come from events that happened and lives that were touched. “Hurricane Sandy,” “Charleston, SC,” and “Racine, WI” are just examples. People’s lives and stories are so much bigger than my own little corner of the world, and that is what I want to convey. We are not separate. We are connected, and we are one. All our decisions or our silence will shape the future so it is time to examine what we stand for and take responsibility. At least on an individual level, we should not be bailed out.
EPL: Can you discuss how your poetry compliments your paintings?
MM: The reason I incorporate poetry is that I believe communication itself is the basis for creation. We cannot build without first communicating, and if it is not clear and sincere, all efforts will fail. English is my second language, and therefore, I must work harder to be understood and I have to be precise so the meaning is not lost.
EPL: How do you find Evanston and the Chicagoland area as a place to work and exhibit as an artist?
MM: I greatly appreciate the opportunity to exhibit in my local area. I hope I contributed in a small way to our vibrant community. I encourage everyone not to give up on their pursuits and to remember that satisfaction comes from hard work and not from the end goal.
Interview by Russell J.