Contemporary Artist: Mariella Crosio
Interview by: Denise Otero
The Turin born contemporary artist is intelligent, enigmatic and intense with a wickedly infectious sense of humour. Mariella Crosio shoots straight from the hip with no apologies. I immediately admire her frankness as much as her talent, burning curiosity for knowledge, and an evolving understanding of herself and humankind. As she puts it, “You can’t be an artist without this inner self awareness. Life should evolve and you should evolve. Being an artist forces you to become self-aware and share the inner depths of your being through your art. You are exposed at all times.”
Mariella, in her words…
When did you become an artist? An artist is just one part of my being. You are always something…you’re always an artist, writer, poet, psychologist, musician, etc. It’s something that starts within you from an early age which is then developed or not. I can easily take this Artist cloak off and become something else. Being an artist is only one part of my being.
When I was little, I would always decorate my classroom. I had a natural ability to create and decorate. It started in this small way, slowly. I also had a desire to be a psychologist. My family wanted me to pursue other things (unfortunately, you can’t always choose the work you are passionate about) so I initially completed a degree in English Language and Literature and had some ‘regular’ jobs. But I kept striving to become an artist and eventually went to art school. I attended the Art Students League in New York City with sculpture courses lead by Sidney Simon, as well as classes in Industrial Psychology and Labour Studies at Columbia University and Cornell.
After Mariella returned to Italy, she continued to explore various techniques, from oil and acrylic painting to etching on zinc and wooden engraving. Mariella feels an artist should have a 360 degree view and ability when it comes to various art techniques.
In what period in time would you have liked to live as an artist? The 17th century because I like the atmosphere of that period.
Which artists have influenced you? There are too many to list them all…a few are Edvard Munch, Balthus, Savinio, Chagall, Kandinsky, Goya…
How would you describe your artwork? Mariella hesitates to label her work and I can tell she doesn’t want to be put in a box as most artists are. This completely goes against her belief in an artist to be able to freely express themselves without being labelled, characterized or critiqued. I ask again and she replies, “Mysterious and insane”.
What inspires you? My inspiration simply comes from within me. A sort of energy comes from inside…an idea comes and I just do it. And the art techniques I have learned help support me and bring that inspiration or idea to life. Artists experience a “creative tension”… it’s real and something which has been studied and documented by Carl Jung. When this inspiration or creative tension emerges from within me, it’s completely different from having to produce a piece which is cold and measured; in that instance, it feels like I have homework. I can still make something but it’s more like catering for an event. Art is not like baking a cake…when you have to produce something “on demand” there’s sometimes a crisis in creativity. The more you are actually free to create, the less you are bounded.
Some of my artwork is ‘joy for the hands’ (experimenting with different techniques and materials), others are ‘joy for the mind’ and some are ‘joy for the thoughts’.
What advice can you give to young aspiring artists? (Mariella quickly corrects me and says you don’t have to be young…anyone can decide to become an artist at any age whether you choose to do it as a profession or simply a hobby) Really explore and learn the technique (s) and know how to use your materials. Attend art school and choose what truly interests you. It’s also good to learn in many contexts; in a classroom and one-on-one, directly from an artist (learning directly from an artist is better than amongst hundreds of students in a classroom). Have a job to help support your pursuit of art. If you are too desperate for success, fame and money, this can crush your art and creativity. Today, unfortunately, artists have to care more about what others (critics) say, what’s in fashion and art is influenced by other outside forces which taints artists. If artists can separate from this and not sacrifice their art by being influenced by these outside forces, then it would free them to create naturally and the art will be more authentic.
Il lungo giorno e la Vita. E questa vita, che sembra non finire mai…
The long day is Life. And it is this life which never seems to end…
– Mariella Crosio
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