By Paul Handler, Mara Sprafkin’s Studio Assistant
Mara and I recently spent two weeks inside a set of storefront windows as part of Atelier, a project set up by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and hosted by the World Financial Center. Joining us behind the glass were five fellow Alliance Alumni and our favorite tweeter Nora Gomez.
When Mara works she tends to spread out. And while she initially attempted to adhere to the intended set up (i.e. sitting on a stool and painting on canvas at an easel), she quickly abandoned all of those things and made a nest for herself on the floor, moving from canvas to paper. Mara and I are accustomed to being gawked at while working. When we install a window or a large-scale site-specific piece, people often stop and stare and wonder what is going on. However, the two weeks working at the WFC were quite different; the passersby were actually encouraged to stare. Usually people think they are snatching a behind-the-scenes peek at whatever is. I will even tell you I watched a little boy lean in and lick the glass as only a four-year-old can. That was the moment that I would most like to forget but can’t seem too.
Lord knows how many hours I have spent working with Mara and watching Mara work. As the hours have turned to days and days to weeks and the weeks to months and months to years, we have both come to understand that sometimes Mara just needs a remix. And the scene inside the WFC was just that. All of the artists were generously spoiled with supplies from Blick Art Materials and Mara had a chance to experiment with her new favorite tool, a custom stamp she designed earlier this year. Mara stamped her way though twelve sheets of the 18 x 24-inch paper and fell hopelessly in love with the markers and colored pencils that she doesn’t typically use or have on hand. Now, a month later, Mara’s stamping campaign continues as she prepares for an upcoming fall show at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.