Artist to follow: Mari Andrew
I came across Mari Andrew’ work while I was surfing Instagram, like I spend so many hours of my day doing. I stumbled upon one of her illustrations and smiled. So I went in to explore her account, and kept reading, and reading, and scrolling. This rarely happens. As amazing as I find Instagram, I often end up scrolling too quickly, digesting each image in a fraction second before I check the next. I don’t enjoy art like I would in a museum, analyzing every corner, brushstroke, up close, then from afar. So when I stop for more, you’ve got to be pretty special, funny or a very adorable raccoon. At a time of art becoming more and more accessible, it’s easy to get lost in viral projects and pretty images, but when an artist has a body of work good enough to fill an entire Instagram account, I am wowed. If on top of that they post consistently, like the French would say, chapeau! Mari Andrew is strong, she’s honest, she’s human, she’s funny and compassionate.
Mari’s is not the kind of art that hangs in a museum, it’s the kind of art that directly connects the artist with its audience, and that’s one of the most powerful things about creativity. Hers are not intricate paintings or gigantic sculptures. They are every day doodles, almost stick figures, pie charts, colorful illustrations, amateur looking vignettes, charged with emotion, truth, vulnerability and humor. When discussing the meaning of art with a friend, they told me that to them, art was a language. Visual arts, like music, are capable of communicating shared experiences, emotions, struggles and fantasies. No matter who you are, we all experience love, death, grief, existential anxiety, intimacy or isolation in similar ways. We may not be able to talk about it, but we can communicate all these things and more through a melody, an illustration, a photograph, a sculpture, a painting. Art is universal. We all struggle in life and as a human collective, we have a communal need to create, to record and to document. And Mari does all of this very well. She has grown an amazing following, spreading love, compassion and creativity through her Instagram feed. The more personal you make it, the more universal it becomes, this quote was noted in my fundamentals of photography class a few years ago and resonates so well with Mari’s work. It’s relatable in the collective subconscious kind of way.
At a time where social media is mainly used to showcase a perfectly curated life, show off our greatest friends, most colorful food, or most exotic vacation destinations, it’s so refreshing to find someone who tells it like is. Mari makes me feel like it’s okay to feel weak sometimes, it’s okay to feel vulnerable or lonely, but she also makes me feel strong and empowered, content with what I have and happy to be alive. What a wonderful balance.
A few months ago, Mari was paralyzed by a strange illness. She kept creating even in the difficult days, painful times. Today she’s doing great, she embraced the pain, the anxiety, and poured it in work full of color, positivity, hope and courage. Wether talking about dating, family, creativity, death or politics, her message is always respectful, positive and powerful. To follow her adventures, head over to Instagram. She’s one of the most consistent artists I’ve encountered, posting a new piece (almost) every day!