Art Just Comes Naturally

Last Updated on May 6, 2015 at 5:42pm | Arts & Culture

"Artistically Speaking" is a regular feature of The Lake-Front magazine, in cooperation with the Garrett County Arts Council, and is being reprinted here in its entirety with permission. This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue.
 
 
For Maggie Pratt, art is just a natural thing to do. According to Pratt, "making art is not a choice for artists...it is the reason for waking up every day!" Art has always been a huge part of her life. Her mother had a degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and her father was an expert woodworker. She was engulfed in a world of art and literature all of her childhood and, therefore, it was only fitting that she too would blossom into the talented artist she is today.
 
Her artistic career really took hold when she was finishing high school. "I learned to weave and work in fibers, creating marketable pieces which supplemented my college tuition," says Pratt. All of her hard, but pleasurable, work during her college life proved worthwhile when she received a Master's Degree in Art Education.
 
She has immersed herself in several art media, including drawing, ceramics, fiber, watercolor, and mixed media using such materials as cold wax and gilding techniques. Her primary choice of medium is oils. When describing her work in one word, Pratt chooses the word 'eclectic.' "Perhaps all artists are a bit schizophrenic regarding style," she adds. "I certainly know that a love for experimentation keeps work fresh and always evolving. I am just as likely to do a natural installation piece as a formal large oil painting. The idea...that moment of inspiration conception...defines the medium to me."
 
Motivation for her work comes from a broad array of sources. "The natural world, spirituality, and various religions and practices," are her main influences. "The transformational times of the year when seasons are evolving are a very powerful source of inspiration." She has also been working on several series based upon the histories of Celtic and Jewish diasporas.
 
When asked what she wanted people to know about her work, Pratt replied, "My work is informed by a host of things...some are deeply primal, some are metaphorical or narrative in one way or another. I move between genres from non-objective to more literal, pictorial content, depending on the flash of inspiration that spawns the choice or materials and ideas."
 
In her career as an artist, Pratt has worked and created in a variety of venues. She has been an art educator at Northern Garrett County High School and Garrett College. She has also taught at Frostburg State University and Allegany College of Maryland, teaching both art and philosophy. She is currently the Arts Director for the Evergreen Heritage Center Foundation in Mt. Savage, Maryland, which features workshops each month for adults and a Summer Arts Discovery Camp for children. This spring, she will be presenting a two-week artist residency as part of the Arts In The Schools Program for all third, fourth, and fifth grade students at Westside School, Cumberland, and George's Creek School, Lonaconing, Maryland. This project is supported by the Allegany Arts Council and the Allegany County Board of Education.
 
In addition to teaching art, Pratt also sells her artwork in galleries and takes part in a variety of public venues and events. One program she has a part in is Healing Ceilings in Raleigh, North Carolina, which, according to Pratt, is "one of my ongoing devotions. We create ceiling tiles for installation in cancer wards across the state." She is also featured in various shows in several venues throughout the year, including Circle Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland and Art from the Heart in Carteret County, North Carolina.
 
Other places include Frostburg Arts Walk and Frostburg Center for Creative Writing's Broadside Project. Upcoming shows include an exhibit at SHIFT in Frostburg, Maryland during November and December 2015 and a solo show at The Gilchrest Gallery in Cumberland, Maryland in July 2016. Pratt is also a member of the Garrett County Arts Council and exhibits regularly at The Gallery Shop in downtown Oakland. "I was fortunate enough to be juried in, and am a proud and happy member of, a wonderful group of art advocates!" Other memberships include the Allegany Arts Council, the Carteret County Arts Council, and the Maryland Federation of Art.
 
When asked about some of her interesting sales stories, Pratt replied, "When a client asks 'Can you do better on that piece?' I usually say, well, yes, probably, but what you see is the best I could do at the time. It takes them a minute to get it. And no, the price, just as with the dentist or car mechanic, is the price."
 
Pratt was selected by the Catoctin Forest Alliance as Artist in Residence at Catoctin National Park, Thurmont, Maryland in 2012. She spent several weeks in a primitive cabin while working on her paintings and creating a program for visitors to the park and for students at Catoctin High School.
 
In addition to working on her artwork, she can be found engaging in her other pursuits, which include cooking for her family and friends, extensive reading and research, writing, kayaking, and caring for her dogs.
 
Looking back at all things Maggie Pratt has accomplished and achieved throughout her artistic career, it seems as if she were destined to be an artist rather than choosing to be one. From the time she was born, she has been immersed in the world of art, thus setting the stage for her future lifestyle. According to Pratt, "Making art is just a natural part of my world. Please support the Arts in your community!"
 
You can support arts programming throughout Garrett County by becoming a member of the Garrett County Arts Council. For  more information, contact the Garrett County Arts Council at (301) 334-6580 or visit its website.