A childhood spent amidst the beaches of Southern California ingrained Maria Moyer with a loving respect for ocean landscapes and sea organisms, lending her work as a sculptor and jeweler inspiration from the “exquisite weirdness of nature,” a sensibility that imbues her overall work as an artist. From the opportunity to dissect an 18-foot beached squid at 11 years old under the tutelage of her professor, to an iconic meeting with Dr. Jane Goodall years later where she was able to present the doctor with a “thank you” porcelain rose, Maria’s intersections with nature and the world at large always have created magic.
Now, inhabiting realms between Oakland, CA and New York City, NY, Maria’s work melds both corporate and art, both nature and man’s worlds. When not creating beautiful, tactile sculpture and jewelry, hand building before sanding to a sea-smoothed finish at a NYC community studio, she counsels clients as president of WINK Communication, an agency pinpointing sustainability in design, a path she has pioneered for companies such as the Gap Inc.
Find Moyer’s sculpture in NYC at BDDW; some of her jewelry at Loomstate and Rogan. In San Francisco, find her sculpture and jewelry at MARCH. Her affordable collection for West Elm has been in stores, online and in catalogs since Summer 2012, with a portion of the proceeds from those sales benefiting Oceana.
Learn about new work, upcoming shows and her latest news on her Facebook page.
And learn more about Maria and her fashion side here on today’s Friday:5ive:
FashionWhirled: As an artist and primarily a sculptor, what role does fashion and style play in your everyday life, personally and within your artwork?
How does being bi-coastal change the way you look at style and fashion?
Maria Moyer: Moving to New York from the West coast to NYC had a surprising effect on what I choose to wear. The surprise: Instead of becoming more interested in trends or what’s on the runways during fashion week, I’m less interested in trends at all. I’m also more confident wearing whatever I want to wear. I unabashedly leave my studio and go directly to dinner — porcelain-smeared boots or not! I figure, if I don a little red lipstick — it looks intentional and works somehow. Of course this might not work if I lived on the Upper East Side. My interest in fashion now seems more to do with what a designer is trying to say. Infinite inspiration: Alexander McQueen’s runway shows.
FW: I know you have created necklaces that are inspired by nature and you have been influenced in the past by plankton for some of your other art pieces; how does your creative process translate into what you wear and how you present yourself on a day-to-day basis?
MM: In summer, I think of the jewelry I make as perfect for a woman who’s had an active day. She has to peel herself away from the beach to make sure she’s on time for dinner. She’s home just long enough to shower, throw on an elegant shift (like my Loup Charmant silk-jersey dress), a little lipstick, and a statement necklace — then she’s out the door! In winter, she wears a white or black porcelain necklace like, “Breast Plate,” inspired by the F-holes in wooden instruments like a cello; or, the indulgent porcelain rose cocktail ring featured in Departures Magazine’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” [photo below]. I love that you can see my fingerprints in this photo.
You are not alone in perhaps thinking all of my work is about plankton — I have a significant body of work that is not about plankton (including my new work and all of my jewelry). Regarding work inspired by plankton — for which I am lucky to have received ample recognition from the press: I created a series in 2011 of one of a kind pieces — most of them are non-representational sculpture.
This led to a collection called “Blue for Loomstate and Rogan,” which included sculpture and jewelry.
FW: What piece of fashion or what kind of fashion has inspired you throughout your life? What has been or is your favorite piece(s) of clothing and why?
MM: Because of growing up around beach communities in LA and Santa Barbara, there’s a certain natural beauty that attracts me — even in fashion. However, as a fairly analytical person and one who appreciates craftsmanship and precision, construction is important to me. Most of my life I’ve been following Valentino. For my high-school prom, my mom helped me find an amazing seamstress who made a dress for me inspired by a Valentino design (which we’d never have been able to afford) — a light pink, multi-layered bodice with a black-silk bubble-skirt. It was fairly shocking to show up in that.
FW: Who or what acts as your muse within your artwork and in the way you put yourself together? How and why does he/she/they inspire you?
MM: I don’t really have a specific artistic muse. Ideas can come from anywhere — scientists, other artists, the natural world, or things I see walking around in the city. An author friend of mine has written that I’m inspired by the “exquisite weirdness of nature.” True, but I’m also interested in other things around us everywhere that we don’t see. In May, I finished a series of tools. [photo below]
When things are going well in the studio, my thoughts couldn’t be further from “the way I put myself together.” Thoughts of myself disappear when I’m in pursuit. It’s all about manifesting the idea — outside and away from myself. I wear the same thing everyday in the studio. In contrast, when I’m intentional and put expressive energy into what I’m wearing, my choice is always based on how I feel at the moment. I have never been able to pick out what I’m wearing in advance. How much easier life would be if I could!
FW: If you could have any notable individual – dead or alive – wear or display or own you pieces, who would it be and why? What pieces do you think they would choose or which pieces would you want them to choose and why?
MM: I’m grateful that many people I admire have my work in their homes already. A huge highlight for me this year, was meeting my life-long hero, Jane Goodall. She has one of my roses on display in her office in DC. That, for me, is a “wow.”
This is a fun question, so, I’ll add Lauren Hutton — who is very much alive and has been effortlessly glamorous at every age. She would have a collection of “Orbs and Vacuoles” [photo, below] in her home.
MM: Be honest and kind.
*All photos by Maria Moyer, except those of Alexander McQueen model, Lauren Hutton and the pink ruffle.