Mary Chiaramonte: Tell Me A Story
Chiaramonte describes her creations to VA Mag by using words like “illustrative” and “painterly.” Her pictures could serve as the illustrations for a book. Words carefully placed one after the other create a story that comes alive with the images. However, with Chirarmonte’s paintings, the story would be best told through her vibrant images alone.
Her paintings have a life. Some are dark, some are light, but they’re always personal. It’s easy to relate with a character or even the locations of her subjects when viewing Chiaramonte’s art. Her creations are full of diverse human quirks, movements and tendencies. Anyone could find his or her own story in at least one piece. These are the things that inspire her.
“What interests me is why do we as people choose the things that we do, or act as we do. I am fascinated by human behavior and the mystery therein. I like to take a certain thought, whether from a story or person’s character, and explore it or them through my painting. The entire process is like trying to cut open a geode to see what it looks like inside, really just to try to understand people. I love the mystery,” the artist said in an interview with VA Mag.
Chiaramonte is able to draw from a lifetime of creating art. She first became interested in art at just three years old. “I was posing for a sketch by a family friend and nothing has [a]ffected me more. I remember then so well, it is palpable. I feel like it was my rebirth. Everything changed for me then,” Chiaramonte told VA Mag. Because Chiaramonte has been working so long, she’s had plenty of time to cultivate and perfect her process. She works with photographs and her imagination, too.
“First, we play dress-up. I get my models ready, visually as imagined. I stage a scene and take a myriad of photographs. From those photographs, I will work on several at a time, combining them, the best elements from each one to look at as I paint them into one image. Some aspects, like the foxes, or whatever else cannot be photographed, I paint from my head,” the painter explains.
Originally from Harmony, West Virginia., Chiaramonte grew up living a rural life on a self-sustaining lifestyle with her brother and twin sister. Now, the artist is based in Richmond, Va., which is a little different from the small town where she was raised. “I think that there is a high caliber of art coming out of Richmond. I feel that from culture to culture, and across the world, there are some very remarkable similarities. It can be as though we are all thinking on the same page at times,” Chiaramonte told VA Mag.
Though there may be similarities in technique or subject matter, artists are not all 100 percent the same. Differences, no matter how small, at times, turn up leaving us with multitudes of art to find. “Everyday, there’s another artist’s work to see. Our economic state is not so good now, everybody knows, yet as artists, this is a great time for us because out of the financial struggle comes the best works. We try harder to achieve the more desperate we become. So, I feel that the work being made now is going to have a great impact for the future of art,” the artist said.
Currently, the painter is working on images that deal with what Chiaramonte told VA Mag is “good [versus] evil, or morality.” For her, this is tied into overpopulation, and the artist wishes to make a statement about the problem. “The more people we make, the more of a battle there is going to be to defend ourselves, and our kindness gets tossed out on the highway. It’s a sad thing, I would really like to bring some kind of awareness to it all and see if we can’t try to change our actions, no matter how small of an effect I could have, I would like to try to move something with my work,” said Chiaramonte .
This seems like a challenging obstacle to tackle, but she is beginning to welcome challenges as a way to further herself as an artist. “It used to be that I would avoid certain subjects out of the misery they could bring to define. Now I dive headfirst into it all. I paint what I want to paint, even if it is going to be some place unfamiliar, a place I won’t know until I’ve been there. This can be difficult to push yourself beyond what you already know in painting,” Chiaramonte said.
Though the art scene is competitive, Chiaramonte fights the battle by being a true artist – someone who she said is “steadfast in their pursuit.”