We are excited to introduce Maryanna Hoggatt's Animal Battle to the gallery this November with the artist's brand new series, All Aboard the Dreamboat. We asked Maryanna a few questions in regards to the new work, her process, and the inspiration behind her pieces. All images courtesy of the artist. ME: All Aboard the Dreamboat is your second installment of your ongoing 'Animal Battle' series. How did you come up with the idea for 'Animal Battle' and what is your inspiration for the characters?
MH: The first iteration of Animal Battle was a set of quick ink drawings I made in a sketchbook while I tabled at Stumptown Comics fest back in 2012. They were really violent - decapitation and heads on sticks, silly stuff. I liked the seed of the series but wanted to shelve the idea in my head while I thought about how to elevate it with a more substantial, less violent narrative. The second version of Animal Battle coincided with an important and happy change in my life about a year later, when I left my bartending job of five years to be a full time artist. The narrative really took off at this point, and while all my work prior to this had been cartoony and acerbic or dark and moody, now I was really free. I wanted to focus on the details. And I really wanted my work to be overwhelmingly positive and empowering.
ME: How would you sum up the theme of this exhibition, in particular?
MH: In the beginning I had to get acquainted with the medium of sculpting. My last show was more of an introduction to the characters and the world of Animal Battle. Now that I've done the How-Do-You-Do’s, I wanted to explore a different segment of this world, the Subconscious. Animal Battle is about imagining playful identities for the functions of our brain. What would an Idea look like? How does it move about? I imagine that dreams and ideas are hidden or buried in dark recesses and caves. Some need to be harvested and transported by a Dream Guide to a realm of consciousness, others are ferried along on rockets or rickety ships. I wanted to play more with conceptual ideas rather than character design, although there is still plenty of that too.
ME: What is your artistic process? Take us on a journey from concept to finished piece.
MH: I usually start with a very clear idea in my head that is translated into a sketch. Often it’s something I’ve been kicking around for awhile. For a painting, I’ll just prime, soft outline, and go for it. For a sculpture, if the original drawing is too small I’ll scan it and print it to scale, then write down the measurements to guide the sculpting stage. This guide is taped to the wall in front of my work table. I don’t do turn around drawings. Initially I thought I would have to, but I found I didn’t need them because the ideas are fairly complete in my head and I felt comfortable without them. Sculpting a piece in resin (Magic Sculpt) takes a couple days because I’m usually working on multiple pieces at once. There is always some sanding and drilling and adding of delicate or removable parts before I move on to my favorite stage, painting. For this show I worked with molds and castings for the first time, so there are a few editions included as well.
ME: Do you have a favorite piece in the show, or one that was particularly challenging to work on, and why?
MH: I do, and even though I love them all in a way, I think “I Got This” is my favorite. I am that determined wolf dragging the giant wooden sword that perhaps I don’t have the strength to wield. “I got this” is what I tell myself when faced with a daunting task. It is my way of telling my inner doubts to f—k off.
ME: What artists inspire you (living or deceased)?
MH: I admire a lot of my fellow artists, too many to name. In high school the artists that inspired me to be a painter were Francis Bacon, Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, and Georgia O’Keefe. But what really had a profound impact on me I discovered when I was just a kid. We moved a lot when I was growing up. My only steady friends were books and movies. I escaped into fantasy narratives in particular, and some of my favorites had female protagonists - Labyrinth (Above, Right), The Secret of Nimh (Above, Left), A Wrinkle in Time. I still have a deep love for early Tim Burton - Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands. But my touchstones will forever be Jim Henson/Frank Oz live action fantasy films like the Dark Crystal, and others like The Neverending Story. I don’t think I realized how profoundly those movies influenced me until recently. I am fascinated with the process of constructing an epic narrative with human hands. It is the same fascination I have with stop motion animation. I’m a big Laika fan too.
ME: What’s your daily life like? What are some things you do when you’re not making art?
MH: My daily life is not very glamorous……roll out of bed, coffee, work all day in my pajamas. I’m also a runner. It’s something that’s becoming a very prominent part of my life. I am usually out of my studio and running on a trail a few days a week. For the first 30 years of my life, I was like a slug taking a nap. Now I hope to do my first ultra marathon next year. I started running at about the same time I began working on Animal Battle, and I can’t help but feel like they are somehow interconnected. For me, taking on this physical challenge has continuously proven that I am capable of much more than I thought. It is a feeling that carries into my work, and I hope it translates and inspires others to feel the same of themselves.