Every artist’s path is different. For Rebecca Maloney, it took some time away from home to feel the warm embrace of Hartford’s artist community upon her return. After graduating art school, she felt called to her grandmother’s attic after her passing, where she found boxes of old magazines. It was from this collection of magazines that came material for her first solo exhibit.
After a stint out west, Maloney returned to the Nutmeg State and started holding her own painting and mixed media workshops, based on her experiences participating in similar workshops elsewhere. More recently however, she’s placed a heavier emphasis on mixed media for her personal portfolio.
“While playing with materials, you’re learning about them,” said Maloney. Learning about interactions between materials is essential to her discovery process. Maloney is more interested in stepping away from the formal aspects of the result, rather than working towards a specific goal. The juxtaposition of methods and materials leads to future uses of both in different contexts.
Mixed Media is a highly experimental medium, but it doesn’t have to be high concept. For Maloney, her primary form of artistic expression is much more improvisational; each layer not only builds upon the other, but also inside every layer is a lesson about that particular material and how it interacts with other materials. Maloney also enjoys collaborating with people and sharing ideas. This becomes particularly helpful in her work with ActUp Theater, a Hartford-based theater company that explores social justice issues and current events in its productions.
Upon returning to the Hartford area, she was recruited to help with set design for the company. She was (and remains) excited for the challenge, for creating an entire production aesthetic and working with a production crew is a very different process than working alone in one’s studio…and that’s what she loves about being an artist – “not having something and then suddenly having something” – she’s inspired by spontaneous existence. For Maloney, working with ActUp ignites a different part of her brain, allowing her to see creativity in different ways.
The relationship of an individual to its surroundings is something Maloney takes very seriously: her role as a community-minded artist. If you follow her on any of her social media accounts, you’ll see not only her own work, but a variety of work and resources she shares from other accounts, local and otherwise. Having a community-oriented mindset holds you more accountable to figure out what resources you have and how to use them to make a community better.
When the pandemic crisis hit our own community, Maloney became one of many artists who continue to share their own work along with others’, as well as resources and virtual experiences. Maloney partnered with Diana Aldrete, a professor of language and cultural studies at Trinity College, on #ArtUnQuaratined, a month-long workshop dedicated to art journaling they broadcast on Instagram live through May 2. Yet with all of this sharing, she isn’t putting as much pressure on herself to create, and that’s something that can apply to any artistic medium or job. Maloney is giving herself permission to not overload, which is something we should all consider.
(photos c/o Rebecca Maloney)