As if dealing with sexism in the arts isn’t enough, older women face another ism that gets little attention, ageism. Older women artists continue to be overlooked, ignored or presumed past their prime or ability. Our objective is to bust the stereotypes and showcase the art life of women over 50, women whose passion and exploration in the arts is as vibrant and as exciting as ever.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Margrit Tydings-Petrie

A visit with
 Margrit Tydings-Petrie
Yellow Springs, Ohio
Photography by c.bayraktaroglu aka jafabrit

Winner of the YSAC People's Choice Award 2013. There is a great review of her last exhibit Dancing With the Universe: Masks and Beyond on A Yellow Springs Blog.

Video by Susan Gartner

What kind of art do you do?
A lot of different kinds of art.”
Margrit works a lot with Paper Mache. She collects recycled plastics containers and used Styrofoam. Piles of them are stored in bags around her studio. She covers them with Papier Mâché to make fantastical creatures, vibrant, verdant frames, colorful painted trays and containers and delightfully charming puppets and masks. She has been making puppets and masks for decades.
When Margrit goes anywhere, She carries an artist journal with her and draws tiny life scenes and portraits.  When she comes back from trips, instead of photographs, she carries with her a beautifully drawn artist memory book of her adventures abroad.
She paints whimsical pictures and finishes them in frames she makes from Styrofoam and Paper Mache and then paints the frames with flowers and leaves. 
Working with what she can find, Margrit uses many ingenious ways to make art out of what most people throw out. She has taught Styrofoam printmaking and Paper Mache with many different kinds of students- from the emotionally challenged, to seniors, prisoners, and homeschoolers.  Everybody in Margrit’s family was a teacher.  When Margrit told her father that she wanted to be an artist.  He said, “You can be an artist but try to help other people with it.” She has spent her life never turning away from outsiders in society.  When no one wanted to teach in prisons, Margrit dedicated 17 years to teaching prisoners.

Describe someone who busts the myth for you.
Margrit answered immediately-
My Aunt Cordelia, no matter what the circumstances she was always exploring, always sharing and including people.  I like to see the people who are really working at their art.” Another inspiration is Louise Nevelson and you can see an element of that influence in in an early print of Margrit's from the 70's.
Is there any new media you would like to learn? 
Margrit has always wanted to learn other kinds of printmaking.  You might say it runs in her blood.  Her granddaddy ran the Kentucky Litho.  Margrit’s on a new art adventure. “I’m starting to learn printmaking. I was asked what would I do if I could afford to do anything?  I wanted to learn to make prints.  I just won a grant from the Ohio Arts Council- it’s a grant for artists with disabilities.  I’m using it to join the Dayton Printmaker Association." Being ever curious Margrit is also going to learn to dye silk.

Do you have a stereotype of an older woman artist?  No make up, bright connecting eyes, good laugh from the belly, acceptance of life’s mistakes, doing what they want to do, busy all the time, living fully, fun and relaxing to intense!
Hmmm, I looked at Margrit and thought, “Good description of Margrit!”

Have you ever felt stereotyped because of your age?
Ignored sometimes, like my prime is past.”

Has the aging process made working on your art different, harder?

"It’s more do or die.  I put things off, so last night I stayed up all night working.  I’ve got a bit of precognition.  I knew what I needed to do the day before. I had 3 naps yesterday.  If I go with my inner consciousness, I’m pretty much all right."

Have you made adjustments or tried new ways of working because of aging? "My knee has been a problem. I used to do everything on the floor.  Now I sit. I take naps. I just take a nap when I’m tired."  Looking at her current projects, as well as upcoming classes, and exhibit, I would say age hasn't really slowed her down too much.

What advice would you give young artists?
Be careful of self-criticism.  Do suspend judgment. Keeping working.  Try crazy ideas-maybe 20 years later you’ll have the skills to create it.
Invite people to work with you.  Ask them to show you what they can’t do.
(They always say first that they can’t do art.) Then make people know its doable-it’s just something that we do.

Is making art any better than when you were younger? I really feel like I know what I’m doing now.  I have so many ideas, I want to use them and make something.”

Is it still fun?
"I enjoy making a mess. 

 I always have, when I was tiny, I was told, I painted my crib with you know what.”
Corrine says delightedly “You were a poo artist!”

At about 4, I remember, when we went to church, I would be loud and boisterous, my mother would silently flip over the church bulletin, give me a pencil and point to it for me to draw. “  

Margrit has always made art and continues to make art every day.

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