I was recently fortunate to be in touch with artist Jennifer Maester, who for a number of years has mesmerized us with her sculptures. I asked her if I could interview her for the blog. Not only was she happy the communicate, but we also got to see some very new work of hers.
REUBENMILLER: Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
Jennifer Maestre: I'm a late
bloomer as an artist. I went to Mass College of Art in my 30's, and
majored in Glass. Before that, I'd always done some type of creative
project, but never full time.
I'm basically self taught as far as what I do now, they don't teach my type of pencil art in school.
(more interview and images after the jump)
RM: What mediums do you use for creating your art and objects?
JM: For now, I am using mostly pencils. The sculptures are made by drilling holes in one inch long sections of pencils, and sewing them together using a sculptural beading technique called 'peyote' stitch.
RM: Who do you think most influenced your work?
JM: I love Ernst Haeckle's work, but I'd say it inspires rather than influences me.
RM: When did you fascination for pencils begin? How did it become one of
your best-known art mediums?
JM: I've always been the type to use pencils down to the tiniest nub, and save the nubs.
However, when I started using pencils in my sculptures, it was more about the textures they could allow me to achieve. I was experimenting with lots of pointy things, and pencils happened to be easy to get, and fun to work with.
As for it becoming my best-known art mediums- I'm not really sure!
RM: How do you think up the subjects for your sculptures?
JM: Sometimes I have a rough idea in my head for a form, sometimes things go awry, and I end up somewhere I never envisioned. Sometimes I make a 'pattern' for myself, and follow it to see what happens.
Many times, one sculpture will inspire the next.
Originally, I was inspired by the form and texture of the sea urchin, I still make them out of pencils.
RM: Do you buy pencils in bulk quantities? How many do you estimate
you've used in the last year?
JM: Yes, I do buy in bulk, if I can. I'm very sad that one of my sources has been bought up by a Mega Corporation with a very un-user friendly website- no way to figure out how to get a case of pencils!
On the other hand, a very nice German pencil company sent me 2 cases of gorgeous pencils for free. They are seconds, but I for one can't find any fault with them.
It is tough for me to estimate, but I reckon I've used at least 5,000 pencils, just for sculptures, not including the jewelry.
RM: Where is your work exhibited? For sale?
JM: I am represented by Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge MA., at least as far as the sculptures.
I sell my jewelry in a few shops, galleries, and Museum stores, and on etsy.com .
RM: Tell us about your pencil jewelry. What kind of feedback do you get
from people who have worn it or given as gifts?
JM: I started making the jewelry in 2005. I had made a teapot commission, and the handle was done with a laminated block of pencils, carved. The shapes and colors were so interesting, I decided to try making the jewelry. I enjoy doing it, as I get results a lot sooner than I do when I'm sewing my sculptures together!
It is interesting watching people looking at the jewelry. Sometimes, they get it right away, but other times, even if I tell them what the material is, they still can't puzzle it out. Sometimes people ask me if I melt the pencils- which is a funny question- pencils are made of wood!
RM: What's next on the horizon?
JM: I've been making some artist trading cards, and am thinking I'd like to expand on that.
I also want to make a chess set out of pencils, but first I need to get more pencils. Of course, those are both for fun, for days when I'm not working on my sculptures.