My Interview with Artist, Mary Hong

I follow a fellow designer, Cara McBroom, and was really taken by two art pieces in one of her client’s homes.  It was by Mary Hong, an artist working in Florida. 

Mary Hong, artist of the year award

Mary, receiving an award for Artist of the Year 2014

I had to contact her and found we had a lot in common – she appreciates the experimentation that faux finishers are fond of and she’ll be traveling to the same region of France that I visited back in 2001.  Mary, though, will be visiting there to attend an exposition of her work! 

 glass art by Mary Hong

Mary was just named Artist of the Year 2014 by the Walton County Tourist Development Council in Florida. You will see why she deserves these two honors.  Here’s my time with Mary…

Tell us a little about your background

I was born, raised and educated in Madison Wisconsin.  After college, I was hired as a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines, the year was 1990.  I moved to Hawaii in 1992 and lived there for 13 years. Then, I moved to Florida, got married, gave birth to twins and retired from NWA – all between 2005 and 2007.  Since then, I’ve been a full-time mom and part time artist. 

glass art piece by Mary Hong

Why and when did you decide to be an artist?

That’s a funny question because I don’t think anyone really decides to BE an artist.  I think everyone is an artist in some way or another.  I think there are a few of us who take a brave leap to actually “put our art out there.”  To actually share what we do is hard because we’re putting our soul on display and others get to judge.  I decided to be a professional artist though…in 1992 in Hawaii, as a free lance graphic artist for Crazy Shirts.  I loved it!  It was the creative outlet I needed to balance my non-creative job. 

art by Mary Hong

I love your artwork, especially the acrylic panels with the dye and glass. Can you tell us what inspired you to do this kind of art?

I took a class from faux artist, Krista Vind.  I had been playing with resins and dyes and glass and wanted to put it all together but it really hadn’t clicked yet for me.  Faux artists are GREAT {insert my own remark here – YES!} because they have no fear..they’ll throw anything down to get the effect they want.  She is a great experimenter and loved to tinker and play with all the materials we were using…we both squealed with delight during the class.  We had so much fun!  I took what I learned from her and applied it to what I was already doing and added my glass elements to it and a style evolved

shell art by Mary Hong

What other styles of art do you love (period)? What inspires you most – an artist, place, feeling, time in your life etc.

Places definitely inspire me…which is usually tied into various times in my life.  I’ve been almost everywhere in the world.  My previous career took me EVERYWHERE…Whenever I got to a city or country on a layover..I’d hit the streets and just wander and stare and take it all in.  I could get a good vibe of the culture just by wandering.  My fave place to wander was Prague.  The minute my big toe entered that city..I knew in my heart it would be hard to leave.  I’m pretty open to various styles…I love contemporary but I also love the Renaissance period.  And…that eclectic mix of any two styles brings balance…and that, I like.

glass art with wine bottle and wine glasses

What are your clients’ favorite art pieces?

Wow…that is a hard one.  I just parted with a beautiful still life of a wine bottle, grapes and vase on a textured red canvas.  I didn’t want to let it go it was so beautiful!  It was special because it was different from my current body of work.  I don’t even know if I have a good picture of it!  I’ve done some beautiful mosaic wall murals that I’m proud of….and two large walls of backlit glass in a wet bar that are amazing to look at.  Even I look at it and can’t believe that I actually did it! 

glass art  for interiors by Mary Hong

When you get a commission from a client or designer, how do you go about the process of creating the piece (i.e. the colors in the room etc)

I usually get the feel of the colors and style in the room..then dimensions…then I just start to play, tinker, play, plan then, voila!

glass art by Mary Hong

Tell us about your exposition in France.  How excited are you about this?  When, where etc also, for our European readers who may want to attend.

I‘m extremely excited to go to France and take my art (and my kids!) with me!  What a great backdrop for my art!  And, just getting ready for it with art specific to the region is pushing me in all kids of places!  I   have a contact in Gaujac, his name is Ken Jourdan kenjourdan@hotmail.com and he is doing all the legwork over there. 

The exposition will be at the Galerie Arthe in GAUJAC Rue du Puits Languedoc-Roussillon 04 66 50 03 08 Nov 1 through Nov 9.  This is my first time showing there and I’m hoping to do this yearly, and add a workshop component to future trips. (translated: there are many peeps who want to go with me!)

Mary Hong's glass art class

Tell us about your classes.  What are you your most popular ones and what are you planning for the future?

My most popular classes are the Glass on Canvas, which is what my main body of work consists of.  I think people love these classes so much because it’s easy and fun and the end result is spectacular!  They all LOVE what they take away from the class.  They feel proud.  And..people of all ages and abilites love these classes. Kids that can’t concentrate well will actually sit for a long time putting together a piece.  I haven’t figured out the mental dynamics of it yet..but whatever it is…is powerful. 

Conversely, I’ve had professional artists, even other glass artists take my class, and they struggle!  They’re not wild about my wild mosaic method.  I think because it’s too loose and there aren’t enough rules.  I’ve had people tell me that the classes are life changing!  They finally have found something they LOVE to do…they can’t get enough of it!  I’ve started selling glass packs and resin packs so they can take the materials home and keep creating on their own.  They send pictures of what they’re doing and it’s wonderful!  Future classes include Holiday classes – making trees, angels and crosses on canvas.  I have some students that are really getting into the process and need more instruction so, I’m trying to get advanced class together for them. 

egret glass art by Mary Hong

Might be a tough question…but, do you have any favorite colors or favorite color pairings you love to work with?

I love coastal blues, icy grays with lots of white.  When I work, I laugh on the inside when I think about the colors I use…I use a lot of white paint and I use a lot of clear glass.  What does that tell you?

How can my readers get in touch with you?

By email – wiredglass@gmail.com. My website is http://www.wiredglass.com/wp  

Thanks Mary…Any closing thoughts or comments?

YES!  A lot of people ask me where I get my glass.  Let me tell you!!!! People bring it to me!  They see my work and they “get it” and they start bringing it in!  My best find ever was probably my next door neighbors!  They know what I do.  They had all their outdoor lights replaced.  They gave me all their old ones..the ones with the slighly curved beveled glass in them.  I LOVED that glass because I could cut it into strips and used it as fish tails or mermaid tails.  That slight curve was priceless to me!  You should see the amazing things I can make with a broken vase or bottle or well, anything! 

Almost ALL the glass I use is REPURPOSED!  But think of it…do you know how hard it is for me to get my hands on pretty broken glass?!  Everyone THROWS IT AWAY!  ARGH..don’t do that!  Send it to me, I’ll pay shipping.  All I ask is that it has to be pretty!  If you’re not sure, then it probably IS PRETTY!  IF it is clear, then it WILL be pretty!  (And, I’m all set in the wine bottle department…I have plenty of those :) 

Thanks so much for your time, Mary. I know my readers will love your work.  I will be down to take a class soon.  Congratulations on your award and your upcoming exposition – good luck in France!

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2 Responses to My Interview with Artist, Mary Hong

  1. Sue says:

    This is one reader who is enchanted. I want to drink in the blue and white. I never knew about this kind of art and even me who can’t draw was thinking…..maybe I can do this…be creative…make something. So wonderful.
    Sue recently posted..Roseland Cottage – A New England LandmarkMy Profile

    • Linda says:

      Hi Sue…I know, isn’t her work beautiful! And – I am thinking of taking a class with her as well. I love her work!

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