Hilary Robin McCarthy: Instagram Helps to Communicate My Art to the World

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Artist Hilary Robin McCarthy from New York applied for The Art Sprinter Awards for the second time… and has been selected again! Check out this new interview with Hilary where she shares her thoughts on working with The Art Sprinter team for the second time.

Please introduce yourself to The Art Sprinter Blog readers. What is your background in art? I am a contemporary painter. I grew up in Connecticut but have been living in NYC for 15 years. I have a BFA from Hartford Art School and an MFA from New York Academy of Art. I am currently getting a BA from Columbia University in Art History and Archaeology. I am primarily interested in the figure and how it relates to nature.

543803_307668436043432_26185948_nKindly tell us more about paintings that you are creating. Why did you choose that format and medium?

I have always been painting and drawing and it is the medium that feels most natural to me. I briefly dabbled in photography and film but I don’t like working on the computer. I feel most creative when working with my hands and enjoy the process of adding and subtracting paint to the canvas.


In your opinion, is a formal art education important for artists (and why)?

Due to the state of the economy that is a great question but I can personally say I only benefited from having an art education by developing a formal vocabulary both in terms of technique and language to express my personal vision.

One analogy that comes to mind is the Japanese martial arts concept known as Shi-ha-ri. Which translates to- first learn, then detach, then finally transcend. Shi is repeating the forms and discipline so that our bodies absorb the information. We remain faithful to these forms with no deviation. In Ha we make innovations, forms can be broken and discarded. Finally in Ri we open the door to creative technique — where are hearts, minds and desires are unhindered.

This is similar to going to getting an MFA and transcending your own vision after you graduate.

Hilary_2How can you describe your art? What do you expect viewers to explore in your installations?

In the past my work was about the human condition and connections. My current work borders on the surreal while exploring our current relationship with the environment. I try and work out this dysfunctional relationship in my painting and at the same time explore both the beauty and mystery of both figure and and nature.

What is the message that you are trying to present through your works?

I don’t have a concrete message and don’t think art should be consumed in a neat package with one message. I’m more into art that makes you look twice or ask questions about previous assumptions.

What inspires you as an artist? How do you choose the subject of your installations?

I am much more a visual person than a verbal one. I experience life through images and emotions and even dream that way.  There are no words in my dreams even when people are talking there is a silent unspoken communication. So that extent what inspires me first is always visual whether it be nature — ocean, sky, clouds, birds,an unusual profile  I see on the subway, green eyes, photographs, the way two colors look next to each other

How has your style changed over the years of working as a professional artist?Right now my work is in flux but it is a lot more surreal and less literal.

Hilary_3What is the most comfortable environment for you to work at?

Alone. Lots of sunshine and windows. Natural light. Music, Podcasts, Audiobooks. However, I don’t like to work in a complete vacuum and value having other people over to my studio for feedback. At the risk of sounding lame I actually really like Instagram and find it surprisingly helpful in communicating my art and process to the world.

Hilary_5What is your connection to Jewish culture and art? What are some of the Jewish artists that inspire you?

I have a connection with Jewish culture since my mom was Jewish (my father was Catholic) and I grew up with that identity. It feels like home to me. However I am in no way religious.

As far as artists, I look at the bright color palette of Marc Chagall, the social art of Ben Shaun. Growing up, we had a Ben Shaun painting hanging above the fireplace. My mom was born in the same town as he was in Rosevelt, NJ.

I recently did a series of drawings about the grandchildren (“millennials”) of holocaust survivors getting tattoos of the same number that was branded on their grandparents. It was a different take on Holocaust remembrance.

Do you find art contests helpful for the artists? If so, why are they important? What would you suggest to the artists who are thinking to participate in The Art Sprinter competition? What kind of artworks would you recommend to submit?  

I can’t speak for other artists – it depends on what type of contest and whether it is a good fit for them. I think any type of exposure is good for communicating your message.

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