September 11, 2019 Artist to Watch: Mary Claire Delony
Mary Claire Delony
Mary Claire Delony started her official "art career" as an undergraduate Painting student at LSU and four years later found myself in NYC doing my MFA at The New York Studio School of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture. At the ripe ole' age of 23 she had two degrees in Painting and no idea what to do with them - but fortune had her land back at home teaching as an Adjunct Art Instructor at LSU. She taught several semesters at LSU and eventually found herself teaching Talented Visual Arts for the EBRPSS at an elementary school -- but more surprising than being in the school system was the fact that she found she truly loved art education (at least the education I chose to provide).
Aside from two years of experimenting with corporate retail management, she has been teaching Creative Expression (she views "skills" as supplemental to expression, and they come naturally when a student has purpose) in Baton Rouge for almost 12 years, and have never stopped painting.
As a painter, she has shown all over BR, around the state of LA, and in NY. She have floated in and out of the mainstream "Art World" of openings, juried shows, receptions, public art works, etc., but has continued to make and evolve. The changes that have happened over the past 4 years due to plunging into motherhood have opened her up to more possibilities that are impacting both her artwork and teaching style.
Impactful classroom experience as a student:
I was a senior in high school as an AP art student, just wasting time and doing everything BUT working intentionally and thoughtfully. I wasn't giving anything I was doing any consideration, then one day my teacher at the time (Carol Hackler) cornered me after class - "Mary Claire, you are wasting your talent! Don't let yourself be wrapped up in other people, use your gift!" That one conversation woke something up in me that has never fallen back into the shadows, and fanned a serious flame in me that has kept me going for almost 20 years now.
Impactful classroom experience as a teacher:
There are no specific experiences, but a constant wave of moments in my days with my students where I can feel their new excitement, where a conversation with one of them sparks something in them that they didn't know existed, or when they look at what they have made and smile ear to ear. After almost 12 years of teaching, my favorite moment is when a student looks at their artwork and isn't afraid to feel PRIDE, because they know they have done something new and opened up another door.
What drives you to continue your artistic practice?
Everything is inspiration if you allow it to be. What drives me now is slowly realizing that there truly is no limit to what I'm making, how I make it, and how I get to the image. My artwork is no longer just about doing an idea, it's about processing energy, life, experiences, encounters, ALL of it. The creative drive and the ability to make is what keeps my feet rooted in the grass.
If you could communicate one key message about arts education to someone outside the sector, what would it be?
What we provide students in a heart-felt arts classroom cannot be measured in data or even in the end result. A classroom designed to cultivate students individual creative drives helps grow our students as humans. They learn the power of personal expression, the power of discipline, the power of community, and the vulnerability and freedom to explore, make mistakes, and realize that mistakes are only the beginning of something extraordinary - them opening up to more possibility.