3 Questions

3 Questions with Mary Mattingly


Artist and photographer Mary Mattingly '02 on constant curiosity and unconventional careers.

3 QUESTIONS is series of brief, three-question interviews with PNCA’s visiting artists and lecturers. Each year, PNCA attracts innovative, thoughtful, and creative makers and thinkers who share our belief in the transformative power of creativity. In three short answers to three short questions, these artists offer perspectives on career, motivation, and transformation. When available, we include links to audio recordings, transcripts, slideshows, or video.

PNCA invited Mary Mattingly, who graduated from PNCA in 2002, to deliver the 2012-2013 Homecoming Lecture, one of the College’s four Cornerstone Lectures. You can also listen to a podcast of Mary Mattingly’s homecoming lecture.

“The career of an artist
is always unconventional.”


Photo by Kai Regan, via marymattingly.com.

What advice would you offer current students about to embark on a career in the arts?

I think about an art career as a survival mechanism for an artist. The way in which you survive in the world as an artist can take many forms, and the career of an artist is always unconventional. I believe that if making art is foremost a necessity and habit then it will also become your career in a way that is bound to be different from the way it works for any of your peers; there’s no right way.

How do you maintain your creative practice? What keeps you motivated and engaged?

Through constant curiosity, and witnessing a project come to fruition.

Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed the nature of your work?

While no single experience has profoundly changed the nature of my work, it has been a combination of small moments that daily alter my perspective and process, influencing the artwork I make.

Mary Mattingly‘s work collapses boundaries between performance, sculpture, architecture, and documentation. Through wearable environments and autonomous living systems, her practice addresses nomadic themes that are based on the need to migrate due to current and future environmental and political situations. During the summer of 2009, she completed the Waterpod, a mobile, autonomous living system, habitat, and public space built atop a 99’ x 31’ industrial flat-deck barge. The Waterpod docked throughout New York City and hosted over 200,000 visitors. Her work has been featured in ArtForum, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Financial Times, Le Monde Magazine, ICON, The Brooklyn Paper, Aperture, BBC News, MSNBC, Fox 5, WNBC, and shown both nationally and internationally.

— Posted on 12/11 at 11:18 AM

Share this story: