…talks about art, inspiration, money and the meaning behind her exotic artist nickname.

Tell us, what inspires you?

My work is inspired by the moments in my adventures that have felt transcendent—the ones that made me feel something intense, something beyond everyday life. Those times when everything hums and glows with significance.

Favorite medium?

The materials I use vary depending on the experience I’m trying to create. I tend to paint when the feeling itself is so beyond words that the only way to express it is pictorially—right now I’m working on a series of paintings that are about the electric feeling of being deep in nature on a summer night.

I also write, play music and design outfits trying to capture something elusive and mesmerizing, like when you wake up from a really interesting dream and rush to write it down.

I guess I live with one foot in my own enchanted fantasyland, and my work is an attempt to invite other people into it.

Artist’s niche?

I’m best known for being a wildcard. I’m always running away on new adventures, ending up in the strangest places (like Gillette! I never meant to end up here), and defying everyone’s expectations—even the people who know me really well. I’ve been working on writing these adventures down, turning them into a book.

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Why art?

My favorite thing about art is that it can be anything, and because of that it allows me to express strange nuanced things that words alone can’t quite capture. Art lets me memorialize all the things that strike me as noteworthy.

How’s work?

As program coordinator at AVA, I work with Executive Director Grace Torres to make exciting, creative things happen here.

Some of my favorite parts of my job are setting up still lifes for our Lunch and Sketch group that meets on Tuesdays (open to members from 11a.m. – 1 p.m.), photographing the beautiful handmade things in our Artisan Market, making ads for our workshops, and planning fun artistic activities to do with Gillette College.

And of course, meeting all the fascinating people who come through our doors. I would never have known that Gillette has such a great creative community. I feel immensely lucky to be a part of it. It’s really nice to have gotten to a place where I’m feeling collected and productive again, and to be a part of an artistic community that inspires me to keep working.

What’s next?

I wish I could tell you to check out my website or something, but since my art has never been about making money to me (that’s what working is for), it hasn’t been much of a priority. I’m more concerned with making something true to what I envision and getting it right.

Eventually, I’ll join the herd and make a website but, for now, if you want to know what I’m up to, come by AVA and maybe I’ll have some pictures on my phone.

We’re dying to know, why Junglecat?

People started calling me Junglecat because one day in a critique someone asked me what the “J” stands for (I sign my work Mary J. Wilson because Mary Wilson just feels plain and too short, and also there’s so damn many other Mary Wilsons in the world already), and since I was wearing head-to-toe leopard print that day (it was art school), I sarcastically said “Junglecat.”

It was funny, so it took off. But you know, I’ve come to realize it suits me. A jungle cat is one step away from being a domestic cat, but it’s too wild for that. As someone who does a lot of seemingly domestic things (knitting, sewing, etc.) in a wilder way, I feel that.

So, I keep the name because it speaks to the part of me that prefers prowling to routine and refuses to be tamed.

I really think that’s where my work comes from. Plus, I like cats.

By: Mary “Junglecat” Wilson with Stephanie L. Scarcliff

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