Marisa Keris Intro by Kassie Dyes Interview by Hannah Costello
ainter Maris Keris and our photography director, Hannah
I love to use earth tones that specifically come from old family
Costello, recently had the opportunity to chat about Marisa and
photos. I’ve worked directly from them many times, so I get that
the themes of exploration that are so prevalent in her work and in her
feeling of nostalgia. I almost want to create this “memory-dreamy”
state. My grandmother grew up on the same farm I did, so I feel
Currently in the midst of applying to graduate school programs,
like everything I do is so full of sentiment….One of my paintings
Marisa starts telling us about her time as an undergrad at RISD and
is called Welcome to the Jungle; this painting is a bit drippy and
describes how her subsequent years in Alabama have impacted her
moody. It’s as if you were going into the jungle, it would be shaded,
rich in color but not as vibrant.”
“It’s been a constant exploration of trying to find out where work is going. For me, it’s driven by where I live or what I’m inspired by. So much of being in Alabama is landscape, so I am constantly trying to figure out how to capture that in paintings.” The northeast native was originally into drawing, but in high school she developed an interest in painting, which she attributes to her wonderful art teacher turned mentor. During this time she was able to experiment with materials and mediums. “I had the right people to encourage me at the right time!”
Are these things you paint from real life, things that you’ve seen, or are they from your imagination? Oh, it’s a total combination. I spent some time on the east coast of Florida; I went down there to paint and to volunteer. I was really inspired by the native wildness of the landscape. I was trying to capture that nature side, and not the suburbia of Florida. I wanted to capture that true landscape but also the feeling of nostalgia for something that can’t be there all the time. It does exist, but it’s also a fantasy world. Even more so, where I live in Alabama is on the TN
Hannah: How do you see yourself exploring?
river, which has some tropical trees south of the mountains, so it’s an
Maris: As an artist you’re always trying to explore your own work
interesting landscape. It’s wonderful to take inspiration from places
and continue to develop it. Personally, I think traveling is a larger
I’ve been, but it’s also interesting to be able to create a world and
way to do that in life. I live in Alabama now, but I was raised in New
express your ideas there.
Jersey on a Christmas tree farm. Allentown is a farming town, and that is still such a part of who I am. Exploring through gardening and nature has made such an impact, which I see in my work.
As we wrap up our interview, Marisa speaks about how her beautiful and thought-provoking work can be perceived by different viewers. “Take the people swimming, for example. It’s a man and a woman in the
What was your childhood like?
water. Some people can take this as recreational swimming, but to me it
Well, you live on a farm and you don’t have a lot of neighbors--not a
also feels like Adam and Eve in the garden. It makes me think about our
lot of kids to play with until you go to school! I spent a lot of time in
history, where we came from. And not necessarily in a really religious
my imaginary world, so my creativity came out. My parents are both
way. There are so many different origin stories. Every culture has one
very creative in their own ways, and my sister is also a very talented
and how man and woman came to be. I think how it can mean different
musician, so my parents always encouraged creativity.
things to different people, no matter what their beliefs may be.”
I’m so interested in the tones you’ve used in your paintings! Tell
We have been so privileged to see and hear about Marisa’s work, so
me more about how you got here in your process.
make sure you look for yourself online at www.marisakerisstudio.
They are moody for sure! I’ve loved black and white photography, old
com and follow her on Instagram @marisa_keris
cameras, that feel of nostalgia, and I try to achieve that same feeling.