When we started the Artist Interview series back in 2016, we did it with the intention of completing 12 interviews that year. We continued into 2017 and beyond with an enthusiasm that our calendar couldn't keep up with. We're committed to the series because it's still one of our favorite things we do, but one every month just isn't happening. That's how we find ourselves here in January 2019 publishing an interview we conducted in June 2018. Oops. We're striving to do better than a 7 month delay in the future and we hope you'll continue to follow along!
What's your name?
Maria Mosette Kretschmann
Where are you from?
I am from Zelienople, Pennsylvania, north of the city.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
I live in Point Breeze and my studio is in Wilkinsburg.
What type of artist are you?
My work runs the gamut. My interests are ever changing, and I have an eternal quest for new metaphorical tools in my toolbox. I've never limited myself by medium. I've always felt that if the idea called for it that I would find the resources necessary to make it happen!
I'm a bartering artist. I think this is the only way that we're gonna survive as a species is, you know, helping each other. And, I don't know, fuck money when you have skills and resources. You know? That's not value. But anyway, I have a degree in ceramics, and I am a self-taught everything else. Mold maker and everything else seems to stem from there. I've done installation work, interactive large scale sculpture, collaborated on performance and video pieces, and worked on projects improving accessibility to the arts. I like to push the envelope. I am currently making small but delightful cast metal sculptures and hoping to scale up soon.
When did you first get interested in art?
Well, when I was a freshman in high school I had a ceramics class that I really enjoyed. It's kinda the only thing that I gave a shit about. I was a trouble maker and I found myself in detention a lot of days after school, and my art teacher must have seen something in me 'cause she offered me to serve my detentions in the art room. And that's where it all started.
Who are your biggest influences?
I always struggle with this question. I guess I'm a bad artist in that I never really looked at other people's work. I think I'm the most inspired by people who have grit and perseverance, and that's across the board in my life, you know, whether they are artists or not. Just people who are passionate and people who follow through with shit, are curious and wanna solve problems. Whether that's social justice or making art or whatever your thing is.
What's your favorite part of being an artist in Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh's art scene is really approachable. I moved here in my mid 30's not having lived here as an adult and I found it really easy to connect almost immediately and be warmly welcomed. It doesn't feel pretentious and you can drop an email or make a phone call and people get back to you.
What would you like to see more of in the Pittsburgh art scene?
Artwork being sold! No but seriously, and affordable studio space. Man, I think part of what has put Pittsburgh on the map is the cool shit that people are doing, that artists are doing, the people on the fringes. I'd like Pittsburgh to be reflective of that and not big corporations-medical, tech, extractive or otherwise, which create unaffordable housing and studio space, along with a slew of other issues for our communities. I think it's a problem in many cities right now. You know, I lived in Philly for ten years and the same thing started to happen 4 years ago when I moved back here. It was like all of a sudden the neighborhoods were just unattainable. This isn't a just Pittsburgh problem. Artists are good at being supportive to one another, what we need is our society and culture to support us...right?
Is there something you've created that you are most proud of?
I think that I'm the most proud of creating a studio practice that has like withstood the test of time. I think that that's really exciting. You know? I could talk about my work but like, that to me is more of an accomplishment than anything I've ever made.
What other things do you do when you're not making art?
What am I not doing? I'm not watching TV. And I'm not drinking a lot of beer. But ah, no but really I'm also a farmer. I have a farm with my family. We grow organic vegetables and we have a 4 acre apple orchard, which is enchanting. This has inspired me to venture into hard cider. Stay tuned~
What would you tell artists who are just starting out?
Number 1: Find your mentor and be a sponge. Relationships like this are invaluable. If you're fresh out of college stay connected with your peers from school. You'll rarely make these kinds of relationships in the real world. Let those people be your allies and rely on them for critical feedback. Number 2: Don't stop making. Make through your ideas. Number 3: Give yourself a break. The work that you do outside of the studio is just as, if not more, important than the work you do inside the studio. I firmly believe that. We're so hard on ourselves. Most people just work a job and that's all they do, you know? And speaking of that... Number 4: Remember that we're really lucky to have things to be passionate about. Sometimes I think being an artist is a financial curse, but then I just remember that life with purpose is a beautiful life.
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