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Monthly Archives: February 2019

  • Meet Copper Corners By Mary-Catheryn


    Copper Corners By Mary-Catheryn Artist Interview Meet Copper Corners By Mary-Catheryn

    First things first: Copper Corners is an actual place. “Our first house we bought together, that we brought our first-born child home to, was on a street [in Michigan] named Copper Corners,” explains artist Mary-Catheryn Baker, who goes by Mary-Catheryn professionally. In addition to the street she and her husband moved to, copper corners are also a calling card for the artist, since she adds them to her paintings.

    Although she and her family no longer live on Copper Corners, the concept of home is an important element of Mary-Catheryn’s professional trajectory, including her artistic family of origin as well as where she spent her early years.

    “I grew up in Paraguay, in the middle of South America, with missionary parents. I came to the United States at age sixteen,” she says. “It was kind of rough. It’s a pretty important age. I had watched all the American movies about high school, so I was terrified of Mean Girls [the movie and the real-life kind] and I was terrified of high school. I actually home-schooled myself.” Mary-Catheryn wanted to keep her Spanish skills sharp, so she eventually became a translator, doing medical translation for a hospital in Grand Rapids.

    Mary-Catheryn’s post-high school educational background is in business management, not art. That’s because she didn’t necessarily think of herself as an artist, since artistic talent was common in her family. “I have always been artistic,” she explains. “Everyone in my family is an artist. My grandpa did a lot of comic-type artwork. My mom is really good at drawing profiles and people’s faces. What happens in a family of artists, or at least in my family, where everyone’s good at something it’s not that big a deal. No one really paid attention to it. I never thought anything of it.”

    It was in decorating her home that she recognized the extent of her artistic ability, when her husband was transferred to Florida. “When we bought a house it had those huge, tall Florida ceilings and a whole bunch of empty walls. I looked and looked and couldn’t find any [art] I loved. I thought, ‘I’m going to do it myself.’ I went and got a huge canvas and painted a cow, which was exactly what I wanted and couldn’t find. Our neighbor saw it and absolutely loved it and insisted on buying it. And then my sister-in-law bought one, and my neighbor’s sister, and my sister’s friend from work, and it turned into something.” She laughs. “This is what I do full time now” in Grand Rapids.

    The cow, the subject of her first big painting, is a favorite artistic theme for Mary-Catheryn. That’s because when she was growing up in Paraguay, cows were a part of day-to-day life. “Where we lived, farming is very different than in the US,” she says. Farmers in the morning would open their gates and let the animals roam. You’d be driving down the main street and you’d have to stop because there would be a group of cows. I loved the cows and the horses that really weren’t my animals but were my animals, in a way. Most of my animal art is inspired by that.”

    Mary-Catheryn has a studio in her home and paints primarily on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when a sitter arrives to look after her young kids. She works in acrylics “because I have no patience,” she says. “It dries fast, so I can keep layering over and over and I don’t have to wait.”

    Although Mary-Catheryn might not have thought she’d end up making her living as a full-time artist, in retrospect it all makes sense. And as for her family, whose own artistic gifts made hers seem more run-of-the-mill than they actually are? “Family is funny,” she reflects. They weren’t surprised [I became an artist] but were kind of like ‘really? You’re gonna do art?’ [My response is] ‘yeah, and you should too!’”

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