MAY ARTIST OF THE MONTH- MARY BETH BOONE
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05/02/2017
By Toni Tronu
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MAY | ARTIST OF THE MONTH | MARY BETH BOONE  

In one of Mary Beth's blog posts there is an artist statement for her Mindful Series where she says, "I want to be kind, hopeful, and a good listener." It's Mary Beth's intent that by practicing these character traits she is able to make the world a better place. 

Prior to reading Mary Beth's blog I had written this: There is peace in Mary Beth's work and a clear connectivity to her natural surroundings. Her work is thoughtful and true.

It was fascinating to me that I could grasp these feelings through her work and it reminded me of the power of positivity. 

Scroll down to read more about Mary Beth. 

Who are you and what do you make?

My name is Mary Beth Boone and I am a book artist and letterpress printer living in Greensboro, NC. I began making books about 20 years ago and display my work extensively. Recent exhibits include Pop-Up Now at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR and BookOpolis 2017/Dream A Book at Book Works in Asheville, NC. A Winter Residency at the Penland School of Crafts in 2012 inspired me to purchase a Vandercook SP 15 letterpress and set up a small print shop. I print under the imprint Purple Pumpkin Press and my work is in private and public collections. I hold a MFA from the University of SC, Columbia. When I am not in the studio, you can find me in my gardens or hiking in the woods!

Tell us about your process and your daily routine related to creating.

I try to spend time each day making art. This might entail drawing and planning new ideas, transferring drawings to linoleum blocks, carving blocks, then proofing and printing. If I am working on an artist book; I might devote several weeks to its completion. If a book or card has text, then I will compose the type form, set it up on my press and print it; bringing image and type together. I spend several weeks at a time working on production pieces such as blank books, boxes, or cards. My most favorite work is drawing an image, transferring it to a block, carving and watching it evolve into a print.

What is integral to your work as an artist?

Selecting materials such as papers, fabrics, threads, inks, or found objects and uniting these in such a way so as to provide my audience with an artifact that has a new sense of wonder and completeness.

How has your practice changed over time?

I stopped teaching full time in 2013. Just prior to this, I learned how to letterpress print. I then acquired a letterpress and set up my own print shop. The synchronicity of these events has had a profound impact on my artwork in recent years.

What themes do you pursue?

As I grow older I realize that influences - growing up in the South, an appreciation for handmade and preserved objects; in addition to the cultivation of land and plants - are finding their way into my work. It’s the contemplative aspect of my pieces that I hope will promote my audience to ponder their own ideas and perspectives about the interdependent web of life.

What is your dream project?

I recently completed a boxed book entitled Garden Reverie. I combined a suite of nine prints based on the natural world - birds, flowers, and insects - with a poem. I now want to complete a small installation arranging variations and multiples of these prints into a wall mosaic with some of the prints suspended from the ceiling in front of the mosaic - a Garden Reverie environment! Oh what fun!