Mary Woodward on the Wonderful World of Art School

Art has always impacted society. From the astounding architectural and artistic feats from the Greek and Roman era, and to the rebirth of art in the Renaissance, as well as to the pop art movement in the 60's and 70's, art takes many shapes and forms. But, one thing is clear: when art is no longer present, the world becomes dark. Literally. Without art, from the 5th to 15th centuries CE, Europe entered a tragic time known as the Dark Ages, where humans were highly uninterested in learning, creating, or developing. So, the question I pose, is: what does art mean to you?
   I was lucky enough to be able to interview an amazing, sick, ridiculously talented high school artist who attends Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in my hometown, Dallas, Texas (which is the local HSPVA). Mary Woodward is one of the most refined, cool, calm, inspiring, and all around beautiful people I have ever gotten the chance to talk to (and she knocks out some pretty crazy art too). I interviewed her about many things―not just about art. From personal beliefs, to shopping, and then when it got down to it, I asked her the big question:

What does art mean to you?
I'll let her tell you.

WRITTEN CITIZEN: At what age did you start getting into art?

MARY WOODWARD: I got into art around sixth grade when I signed up for an art class at my middle school. I got assigned to draw a flower that was sitting on the table, and when I realized mine wasn’t too bad, I fell in love.

WCDo you want to pursue art later on in life, or do something different?

MW: I'm not sure what I want to do later in life, but I do want to involve art. I love design and influence in the modern world. I was considering careers such as being a fashion designer, plastic surgeon, or tattoo artist. I want to help people feel amazing in their own skin.

WC: What do you think about the atmosphere of a performing arts high school?

MW: I love the atmosphere. I went to a public middle school in McKinney, a part of the Dallas metroplex, where everyone was upper middle-class and white, looked the same, acted the same, talked the same, and thought very surface level. Being exposed to an art school environment is so liberating, because I get to see so many political, social, religious, financial, and racial backgrounds. Every day I get to interact with so many creative and talented people. I get encouraged to get out of my comfort zone and experience so many new things.

WC: When and why do you paint, draw, or do any other creative outlet?

MW: I create because I have so many ideas I want to share with the world. Some people write songs, and dance, and write poetry, whereas I draw and paint. Inspiration has no limits. If I feel the urge to paint an idea I saw in a dream, I will wake up at four in the morning to do it. Sitting in my room alone, drawing, creating, and experimenting with new ideas, is one of the most relaxing things in the world.

WC: Who are some of your favorite artists, and why?

MWPersonally, my favorite artists are Sammy Slabbinck, a digital and physical collage artist; Richard Avedon, a fashion photographer for vogue; and David LaChapelle, a very famous photographer. What I love about them is their ability to push the limits. I love the color that Chagall uses. He often utilizes celebrities, colors, and nudity to make a controversial scene that amazes and captivates viewers. I love artists that use bold ideas and mediums to make art that’s very untraditional, and expand the definition of art itself even further.

WC: What is your favorite type of art?

MWMy favorite type of art is pop art because I love the simplistic lines and bold colors.

WC: Describe to us the Dallas art scene.

MWDallas is full of artists literally from all over the world. My school requires, based on the class being taken in the visual cluster, to write a review every six weeks. Dallas Contemporary and The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) are my personal favorites because they’re constantly changing and represent many ideas and cultures.

WC: What sets you apart from other artists?

MW: My style and ideas expressed through my art set me apart from others. Every artist has a unique style. To me, art that you create is like DNA ― everyone has it, but what the end result is, is yours, and yours alone. To be a successful artist, you need to be daring, fearless, and willing to take rejection.

WC: What are some of your personal beliefs and ideals? Any words of empowerment?

MC: I believe that humans are imperfect. No matter how hard a musician practices, they will never be the best. There is always someone better than you. The sooner I accepted that, the happier I was. Why hold yourself to someone else’s standards? As an artist, I try and grow every single day and learn from every experience. I learn from everyone, good and bad. Everyone is in our lives for a reason. Everyone is my teacher. Take everything you can from them. Everything you experience is helping you as an artist. Not everyone will be pleased with you, so I believe why not do what makes you happy? You can never please everyone. If you want to express yourself through piercings and tattoos, what’s stopping you? There are no limits.

WC: How do you like to express your style? 

MW: I personally love fashion and body piercings; I express myself through my words and [my] body. I dye my hair many colors to see what I like, and if it doesn’t look good to me, it grows back, so why not try? You only hurt yourself by not trying.

WC: What are your favorite stores?

MW: I like Urban Outfitters because they have things that appeal to many people. There are no brand names or logos to try and impress people and to conform with. I also like going to Goodwill, because you can get so many clothes for an extremely low price, and even cut and dye things to make them your own. I adore Dolly Python because they have clothes from 1950-1990, and the past is always in style ― fashion is always coming back around. My personal favorite, though, is my father's closet from 1980. Nothing says fashion like an XL red, purple, and green sweater.

WC: What music do you like to listen to? Any other favorite past times? 

MW: I love driving and listening to music. I enjoy bands like The Shins, Lana Del Rey, Die Antwood, Sonic Youth, and The Kinks.

WC: You describe your art as a "Mix of contemporary and modern pop art," or "kawaii meets rococo." Can you explain a little more about this?

MW: I describe my art as very untraditional. I like to push boundaries and hope that some day I can inspire someone to create art.

WC: What does art mean to you? 

MW: Individuality and expression. 

WC: What’s next for you?

MW: Life is precious, and I don’t plan on wasting it. I want to see the world, and be as open to new things as possible. Never stop. Right now, I am currently recovering from an eating disorder. It was hard, but I learned anything is possible. I am beautiful. Nothing is worth it if you aren’t happy. Drugs and alcohol aren’t the answer. If you need help, ask. Ask people. Tell people. Say anything before it's too late. Learn what’s really important. The most important advice I can give anyone is to love yourself.

It was such a pleasure to interview the lovely Mary. You can find her here on her Instagram or making a difference in the world through art.

All images are Mary's work and her exclusive property.