Martha Hughes is an award-winning artist and photographer – and a distinguished alum of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards circa 1967! She is currently working on a couple of series of paintings and drawings called “Scenes” and “Grid”, which you can view on her website. Also, for the last 11 years, she’s posted a snapshot of her studio and work-in-progress on the website’s homepage every day. In March, her work will be displayed at the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, Texas. Learn more about Martha in our interview with her after the jump!
When did you first become interested in art? I think I was born interested in art – I can’t remember ever not loving art.
What was it like to win a Scholastic Award? During my high school years in the small town of Canyon, Texas, I won several Scholastic Art “Certificate of Merit” (today’s Gold Key) awards, and in my senior year I was awarded a Scholastic Art full-tuition scholarship (similar to a Portfolio Gold Award) for my freshman year in college. This turned out to be a profoundly important milestone in my life because it enabled me to attend an out-of-state college and experience an entirely new world. As I recall, I had a choice of schools where I could use the scholarship. I visited several and finally chose Arizona State University. I made many good friends there, and one of the art professors, Gael Bennett, has been a big influence on my life in art to this day.
Did you have a teacher or mentor who supported you? I received a lot of encouragement from my parents and from my high school art teacher, Charlotte Brantley. During my senior year, Mrs. Brantley allowed my friend Mary Ann and I to leave school two hours early to work on art. Mary Ann and I drove all over the Texas Panhandle with the car loaded with paints and easels, and we painted the Texas landscape (those were innocent days – hard to imagine any public school teacher being allowed to permit that now!)
What is your approach to making art today? Art continues to be my defining raison d’être. Although I’m not able to support myself financially solely through art, it is endlessly fascinating. Art is one of the means by which I explore and engage with the world. One idea leads to another and another….
You live in an interesting place – a small, remote town in the high Texas desert. What brought you to Marfa? I moved to Marfa eight years ago because it seemed like a good place to work on my art. The high desert climate and wide open spaces are fresh and energizing. In addition, Marfa is home to the Chinati Foundation, an international center of minimalist art as well as an outpost of the Lannan Foundation, which supports artists and writers. In fact, the Lannan Foundation recently purchased one of my works that consists of 52 individual paintings for their collection. Artists and art lovers from all over the world visit this small town, and many interesting artists and writers live here. It’s an exciting and intellectually stimulating environment, while offering the peace and quiet to nurture creativity.
What advice would you offer to young artists and writers? I don’t presume to offer any advice – artists and writers of all ages find ways to keep going and pursue their interests and dreams.