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Featured Artist: Maria Cline

As COVID-19 rates rise and many of us return to a lockdown that resembles the stillness/chaos of earlier this year, I hope that Maria's reflections on words and the rituals through which we share our words with others will provide you with some peace and presence of mind.

Maria (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist who said she primarily uses language as her medium. The Decadent blog is privileged to be the conduit for some of her words today.

Maria Cline

I have included links to Maria's work throughout this post. Please feel free to check them out and explore her own website!

An Invitation (2020)

Maria is an artist from Minneapolis, MN. I asked her what life is like right now,

Life is ebbing and flowing right now.

I’m making a lot of work, which I’m thankful to have the energy for. I’ve really leaned into my practice within the past year and have realized important needs for repetition.

I will be graduating from MCAD in the spring, so I’m making plans for my personal practice as well as some collaborative projects.

Exciting things in store!

What are you listening to these days?

At this very moment, Rodrigo Amarante! In general, Josephine Foster, Khruangbin, Edith Piaf, Miles Davis, The Flamingos, Brigitte Bardot, Bon Iver, Nathaniel Rateliff, Billie Holiday, Y La Bamba...a few favorites right now.

I think that one of my favorite things about Maria's art is her appeal to ritual.

I wanted to know how ritual comes into play in her daily life as well (because we sometimes feel the need to distinguish between life and art).

So, as I do with all of Decadent's Featured Artists, I asked how she likes to start her day:

Firstly, gulping some room-temperature water. This is followed by my daily routine of washing my face, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth, taking my pills, and getting dressed. Then, tea & breakfast, usually had with classical music. Depending on my schedule, I either then workout or begin working on projects.

My peaceful mornings are crucial!

The general uncertainty of 2020 has certainly thrown off some of our routines and rituals.

What do you do when you're feeling uninspired and how have the events of these year affected your creativity?

I try to accept the lack of ideas (usually begins with much frustration, which I think is important to note).

To spark inspiration again, I listen to music, watch films, read books, have conversations, eat great food, move, and get outside!

At the start of quarantine, I was feeling so inspired...that has very much drained away. So, I’ve been kneading around for a time. Luckily, I think I’ve found it again!

Acidity can make you temperamental (2020)

As you are an artist who works primarily with words, I would love to know whose literary or poetic words you are engaging with these days.

Oh yes. Right now I’m making my way through The Waves by Virginia Woolf: it’s such an interesting structure and I’m eating it up!

For poetry: always reading Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein,The If Borderlands by Elise Partridge, This Could Be You Composing Me by Gabrielle D.R. Guenther, Prosthesis by Ian Hatcher. Other books: How To Sit by Thich Nat Hanh, Feeling Beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience by G. Gabrielle Starr...I think that’s it. Unless articles and lookbooks and magazines count...

I do love my Minneapolis artists:) What's one of your favorite things about the Twin Cities?

Currently, my favorite thing about the cities are the neighborhood cats. They come and go as they please, maybe a little visit into another home...such independent things, inadvertently spreading joy.

I would love to know what creative projects you have in store. What are you up to these days?

Oh goodness, so many things! In life, I am doing my best to be and to take care of myself, to enjoy my time with my immediate friends that are in person (hello, covid).

As for projects, I’m really looking at life as performance; I’m looking at the mundane actions of everyday life as beautiful, intimate, repetitive things. This is influencing each project.

I’ve recently been making a lot of books and performances...most of these are dealing with my main thought at the moment, which also happens to be my question for my senior thesis: the act of pouring water for someone to drink: how can this exemplify intimacy?

Something I’m quite excited for is a multiple course dinner performance...only the food will be replaced by instructions that come in many forms...books, boxes filled with cards, stories...

Maria, you told me that,

“As a human, I love words and conversation ~ mostly through books, dinner parties, and movement.”

I’m curious to know whether you would oppose expression and communication when it comes to words and language. When we express ourselves through words, are we simultaneously trying to communicate something about ourselves to another? Or are we rather just trying to verbally release something that is stuck in our heads or our hearts?

Follow-up question: How do expression and communication work when we are not dealing primarily with words, i.e. through movement, a shared meal (taste), etc.?

I certainly think both statements apply -- we are definitely expressing a thought via words, while also expressing a feeling. In other words, we’re communicating and emotion-ating.

When we aren’t using words as our mode of language, I would say emotion takes the front seat. When words aren’t used, our human sides latch on to the emotion’s almost catering exclusively to emotion.

That being said, you can be just as communicative, but this would require more straight-forwardness and simplification. I think this is just the way our brains and souls work when reading language.

Performance Book (2019)

You said that “the wind in the trees” is a source of inspiration for you and then immediately added that “moving your body” is similarly integral to finding inspiration:

“Other writers, artists, and humans inspire me. Most importantly for my inspiration is the natural world, especially the wind in the trees. Moving my body is also an integral part of sourcing inspiration.”

How would you say you relate to the natural world as a body (and a spirit) moving through it? And, if I can throw a more socio-ecological question in here: how do you think a better relationship with the natural world as a body could help us to be more conscientious of the way we make use of its natural resources?

To address your second question first: I think really simply, acknowledging you are human and are inherently a piece of this earth, no matter how far removed we might think we are.

So, anything that happens to and in the earth will come back to us. Be mindful.

Getting back to your first thought: As a body, I feel extremely grounded and most myself when I am outside, sitting on the ground.

Feeling gravity, feeling the texture of the grass, the dirt, the bark on trees, the movement of draws me back into myself and calls me to relax.

It reminds me that I am here, and will always be here, in some way or another. It reminds me that there is healing beauty here, whenever I am in need of it.

A Pure Offering (2020)

I believe that you are also interested in textiles as art, could you say a little about that? Would you say that there is a direct relation between words/conversation and the materials we clothe ourselves with, wipe our faces with at the dinner table, wrap ourselves up in when we go to bed. . . ?

What an exciting question, thank you! Absolutely. I think it’s quite apparent and accepted that people express themselves through their clothing.

Going further, people do this through their words and actions, too.

So, bringing my mindset into this more directly, I consider the color and texture of my clothing, as well as any material surrounding me. Through my actions ~ how can I pour this wine into this glass in the most delicate way ~ to show this person I am gently recognizing their vessel and nourishment?

It’s an extension of my language -- it says something about me without my lips needing to even part.

Perhaps a self narrative, an autobiography?

Would you be willing to say a little more about the ways in which you have encountered and interpreted the term “social distancing”? As you said,

“The start of the pandemic gave me an excited urge to tackle the limitations of virtual intimacy. I created a few pieces I really enjoyed, and would have to credit to this struggle of quarantine/lack of social intimacy -- I most enjoyed the term "social distancing", which is of course now nearly cemented into our general vocabulary.”

I find the term “social distancing” especially interesting because, in a way, it describes an absence which has entered our lives this year. Does that correspond with your treatment of the term at all?

I don’t know that I would quite use the word absence...rather a strange addition?

One of the first conversations I had about the oddity of this term was with my father.

He was pondering what the opposite of social distancing would be, to which he coined, “warring intimacy”. I think that was the start of my fascination with intimacy.

I suppose the way I most interact with this term is through screens...which is why I am so interested in creating intimacy through those screens. How can we feel touched, connected, and together, through this blue, artificial, intangible, light?

Also, when I happen to be running essential errands, it is so against my nature (& I think everyone’s nature) to stand so far away from other souls!

I find myself gravitating closer to someone when I’m speaking to them, which I really have to hold back.

It feels awful, but is so necessary right now.

Thank you so much, Maria!



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