Tag Archives: Alfred University

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Maria T. Bentley

MTB studio

Tethered to our innermost beings and the marrow that comprises us, our bodies are rooted in the earth. The loss or decay of any one of these can cause an imbalance. I aim to provoke that delicate steadiness while inducing a sense of nostalgia, and odd familiarity.

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“Bottom of the Barrel” 2015 – mixed media sculpture

I was born and raised in Seneca Falls, NY. Growing up surrounded by the Finger Lakes, rural farm land, and state parks, I am continually drawn outdoors. Religious influences and family experiences are other factors that play a role in my work. I see the use of clay as a representation of the physical body, drawn from the Genesis creation story; recycling of material and life. To me ceramic vessels and sculptures take on a figuratively charged quality representing people from my life.

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“C.A. O.” 2015 – ceramic/ mixed media sculpture

Alzheimer’s and the aging process are explored in my color palate and surfacing quality. Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing to watch a loved one experience, for me it was my grandfather. I recall his vibrant personality and coloring became muted, rather quickly. I recall bruises and the cloudy confusion in his eyes as he became a shell of the man I once knew. Using ceramic burnout methods I expose natural fibers to the firing process, leaving an  exoskeleton of what was, similar to those that experience Alzheimer’s.  What was once there remains in essence but is never the same.

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“How are the numbers?” 2019 – ceramic

Using muted earthy colors and textures associated to decay, decomposition, aging, and the natural earth, I mimic the passing of time. The combining of materials and insertion of light charges the work with multiple layers. In each piece I combine three or more materials experimenting with ceramic, wood, glass, neon/ light, metal, and fibers.

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“Dust to Dust” 2019 – mix media sculpture

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etail shot of the ceramic garbage pail in “Dust to Dust”

I enjoy incorporating apples into my work as it add an ephemeral element to the piece that grows/decays with the passing of time. Apples hint towards my childhood as well as referencing religious creation stories. The piece above invited viewers to eat an apple and dispose of the core in the ceramic garbage pail. Over time there was an accumulation of cores, the collection of compost created by humans, and the decay of these cores provided a wonderful smell and color to the inside of this white void.

My studio practice is sporadic. I am constantly traveling to portfolio days and art classrooms across the country for my position in admissions at Alfred University.

In our "Sugar Shack" making maple syrup this past winter.

In our “Sugar Shack” making maple syrup this past winter.

Image may contain: one or more people, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Working in the garden on our land

I reside in Hornell, NY with my partner. We have land that we garden on and we have a maple farm, Maple Marrow at B&T Farms. We spend a great deal of our time outside playing in the earth or creating with it. I am continually researching and exploring new ways to enhance my practice, manipulate material, and expand my network.

View more of my work on my website at www.mariatbentley.com.


Maria T. Bentley is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Kaele Mulberry

Kaele Mulberry, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of April 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Kaele some questions about her work and studio practice:

Kaele Mulberry

Kaele Mulberry

Q: Tell us about your background.
I was born in Sodus, NY, but when I was two my family moved south to Dallas, Georgia.  I spent the majority of my childhood there—running barefoot on dry grass, sipping honeysuckle, and drawing in the shade.  We relocated back north to Newark, NY in the summer of 2004 and I have lived there since.

I graduated from Alfred University in 2016 with a BFA and a minor in art history.  After graduating I made an improvisational studio in the closet of my childhood room.  At the moment I juggle working as a barista in the mornings and afternoons, and painting in my little studio in the evenings.

“Pupa, Imago (The Inherited Memory),” oil and varnish on canvas, 2016


Q: How would you describe your work?
More recently I have been really into the atmospheric qualities of layered watercolor and the buttery texture of gouache.  I find that these two mediums work best with my choice of scale.  I love the excitement of being overwhelmed by a large canvas, but even more so the meditative, scrawling, clenched fist process of working small.  There is a preciousness about holding something small in your hands.

“Exchange!,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 2017

Recently I have been painting a lot of raccoons.  During my morning commute it is not uncommon to pass by several unfortunate road-crossers, especially raccoons or opossums.  I have begun painting them to, in my own way, pay homage.  More recently my work subjects innocent and tender moments exchanged between humans and animals.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I start with a sketch, and then create more sketches based off the first sketch.  Most of the time I like my drawing more than a finished painting.

Sketchbook, graphite and marker, 2018

Sketchbook, graphite and marker, 2018

There’s a looseness and a spontaneous quality in my drawings that I am still working to capture in my paintings.  I end up scrapping a lot of work because of this.  Restarting and being frustrated about it is a short but important process for my work and for me.  I usually work on two pieces at once to keep things fresh and to stave off disinterest. I find it best to come back to an image with refreshed eyes.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
My project is a series called Ugly Planet, a collection of paintings that illustrate a utopian planet where the dichotomy between humans and animals has been dismantled.  Ugly Planet describes the conventional human tendency to alienate and disparage the unfamiliar and strange.  The content of this series is not meant to be jarring or violent, rather, it is to blur the presumptive roles of humans and animals.

“Untitled,” ink, watercolor, gouache, and color pencil on paper, 2018

The underbelly of this series is inspired by roadkill.  My personal interest in this series is to pay homage to the birds, foxes, raccoons, and opossums I so often encounter on my daily commute.  I wish to illustrate a wistful imagining of their lives uninhibited by humanity’s environmental intervention, while also portraying them amidst activities and settings that are recognizably human.

My big mission is to walk away from this residency with many paintings and, hopefully, a book of this series.  I am convincing myself to let this series bend and grow however it needs too.

Q: What do you listen to when you work? How does it affect your artwork?
I find that I need to always listen to something to keep myself awake and focused.  I only let myself listen to podcasts when I’m working, and because I like to marathon episodes, this usually keeps me working for longer.  A few podcasts that I’m always listening to are Lore; My Brother, My Brother, and Me; and The Adventure Zone.  I definitely recommend them.

For music, I’m currently into the narrative of Sam Beam and the chaotic and exuberant energy of Dan Deacon.

“To Drown a Fish in Loose Leaf Tea,” oil on panel, 2016


Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have a handful of favorite artists.  Remedios Varo is an artist that I am drawn to because of her immersive and fantastical scenes.  Gustav Klimt is another favorite, especially his “Golden Phase” and landscape paintings.  I have far too many favorite contemporary artists, but to name a few: Teagan White, and her detailed paintings of flora and fauna succumbing to the gentle and cruel hands of nature; Rebecca Green, whose gouache paintings of curious children and animals reverberate nostalgia; and Estée Preda, with her folk tale inspired watercolors.

“Picnic,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 2017


Q: What’s next for you?
I expect to print and distribute Ugly Planet during or shortly after my residency.  I am hoping to ready an online shop up with prints, originals, books, and zines.  I will definitely be found brewing fresh coffee and pouring lattes for friends and familiar faces.  I will also be moving to Canandaigua and upgrading from my closet studio to a room studio.

Q: Where else can we find you?
You can view my work over at my website kaelemulberry.com, and follow my process, adventures, and shenanigans on Instagram @loiir.