The Art of the Matter

Inspired by travel, Mary Anne Turley-Emett found art — and an audience



Indian Wells artist Mary Anne Turley-Emett

RAYMOND SHADMAN

Art collectors and enthusiasts walk carefully through Mary Anne Turley-Emett’s studio — a Japanese-style structure surrounded by a robust garden adjacent to her house at The Reserve in Indian Wells. As they examine her installation of ceramic kimonos, resin hares, bronze vests, and stainless steel chairs, the artist reveals the stories that inspired the works. The open studio event was a teaser for her first solo exhibition at Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert.

How did you develop your passion for travel and culture?
I was radicalized by the French. I grew up in Georgia, got a scholarship to Barnard College in New York, and went to study for a summer in France. It was the first foreign country I had gone to, and I was 20. I had never tasted red wine or crème fraîche. I saw French people take their kids to the museums and talk to them like they were adults. I became totally imprinted.

Did you return to Paris after that summer?
Yes, I taught French in Georgia, and then moved to Paris to work as a translator for Merrill Lynch and a law office. [Turley-Emett had studied language and linguistics in the masters program at Georgetown University.] I went to every museum and realized there’s so much I don’t know.

Did you aspire to become an artist?
I had no idea I was an artist. I always thought there was a big chasm between people who love art and people who make it. [After moving to California,] a friend asked me to take a class in ceramics. I made a kimono, and I sold it. That friend talked me into going to Japan in 1987, and it changed my life. I became an artist, and I owned it.

How do your travels to the Far East inform your art?
I’ve always been intrigued by the stories and the beauty in artifacts. I channel so much of my experience in Japan and China and Hong Kong. When I started making art, it came out in kimonos, horses that look like Han dynasty, and the hare. When we look at the moon, we see a face. When Japanese look at the moon, they see a hare. I’m interested in the mythology. And I love the beauty of the dragonfly, which symbolizes that all of this is fleeting.

What appeals to you about the materials you choose — clay, resin, and metal?
Clay is my great love. It’s therapeutic; it’s what I adore. Everything I do starts from clay. If what I make is universally appealing, there’s the temptation to fire it, take it to the foundry, and do a mold [for bronze, stainless steel, and resin]. I love the colors of resin. And the stainless steel vests and chairs opened a whole new audience. The industrial material works well with Renaissance subject matter.
 

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Game On! Greater Palm Springs Offers Casino Excitement

Greater Palm Springs casinos offer plenty of betting excitement,award-winning restaurants, soothing spas, and top-tier live shows.

Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines Welcomes Back Legend Charles McPherson

Idyllwild's Jazz in the Pines keeps calling back the greats, like alto sax player Charles McPherson, who headlines the fest's 22nd edition, Aug. 15-16.

It's a Wonderful Life

Jackson, winner of Palm Springs Life's Cutest Pet Contest, was rescued from a water pipe in the Mecca desert by Loving All Animals and adopted by Valerie Powers Smith and Dr. Mark Smith.

What Floats Your Boat?

Snap a photo of you with your favorite floatie and enter our Instagram contest for the chance to win two passes to Splash House, Aug. 8-9, at three Palm Springs hotels.

New Aortic Procedure Offers Hope for Older Patients

For elderly patients with aortic stenosis, there is now hope for a better life with the introduction of the transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure that was recently introduced at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

McCallum Theatre Broadway Blockbusters Experience!

McCallum Theatre Broadway Blockbusters Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the four 2015-2016 Broadway Blockbusters Series shows.
Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couples getaway
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.