Fridays & Friends #1 – Mary Porter

There are many things that start with the letter F. A few of my favourites are feathers, fairies, fencing, fiber optics, fire, fistfights, freedom and frost…in no particular order. But near the top of that list would be Fridays and friends. In my travels over the past 10 years, for school and residencies and the like, I’ve been lucky enough to have met some amazing friends who are also artists. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, as I have so many talented artist friends, to somehow feature their work on my blog. In an effort to post more semi-regularly too, I’m introducing Fridays & Friends – every few Fridays or so, I will feature one of my friends in a brief Q&A, to introduce their artwork to you. My first Fridays & Friends is with Mary Porter.

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Mary Porter, Monumental (tapeworm), oil and acrylic on plywood, 24" x 72", 2009

Roselina Hung: How did we first meet?

Mary Porter: We met while we were both on exchange in Paris at ENSBA. You and Jessica Gabriel, who came together from Vancouver, adopted me as I knew no one and had been in the city for a couple of weeks by myself. I must have been vaguely Kaspar Hauser-esque at that point. And we learned how to make paint, snuck into fashion shows, lived in very tiny apartments, ate too many and not nearly enough delicious buttery pastries, and drank copious amounts of Beaujolais Nouveau. Despite the distance, we’ve stayed fast friends on account of our mutual love of letter writing.

Mary Porter, Flip Books, Toronto Free Gallery, 2007

RH: Tell me a bit about yourself…

MP: I’m a person that sometimes makes art and other time teaches art. I’m originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and studied at NSCAD. After moving around a bit to Montreal and Vancouver, I relocated to Toronto to go to York University for my MFA and have been here ever since. I’m currently teaching at OCAD University and secretly working away in my studio. Also, I just got a new kitten named Jesus Murphy…who is, as I write this, chewing on my foot.

Mary Porter, "The space to be." installation shots, oil on board, wall painting, Toronto Free Gallery, 2007

RH: Tell me about your work…

MP: Ummmm…sometimes I paint and sometimes I’m a dilettante and do other stuff. I’m pretty preoccupied with spaces that people build and how they live in them and, wait.. I’m just going to copy and paste an artist statement: “The longstanding interest of my work has been an investigation of the built environment to glean some sense of the culture that created it, using humour, the absurd, and the sublime to unsettle our perception of those things that typically go overlooked.” How’s that?

Mary Porter, Jameson Avenue, digital animation, 2011

RH: What are you currently working on?

MP: I’m working on some animations. I recently made one called “Jameson Avenue” about a street near my house in Toronto’s Parkdale. I’m pretty fascinated by the street—it’s just two blocks but thousands of people live on it from all over the world. I’m also working on some drawings and honing my skills as a kitten whisperer.

Mary Porter, Experiments, oil and acrylic on paper, 48" x 44", 2010

RH: Tell me one fun fact about yourself.

MP: Really? a fun fact? this is tough. I wish I had something cool to say, like, “I play a gnarly bass guitar ” or “I was a teenage soap opera star.” Oh, wait, I got it… I was on Sesame Street once… not with the puppets though, and it was Canadian Sesame St and we visited a fish smokehouse…all of which makes it considerably less fun, but still a fact.

Thanks Mary!  To view more of Mary’s work, please visit www.maryporter.ca.

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