The College of New Jersey Logo

Apply     Visit     Give     |     Alumni     Parents     Offices     TCNJ Today     Three Bar Menu

BFA 2020 Interview Series: Mackenzie Mabin interviewed by Annika Marthinuss

Annika Marthinuss:  Tell me a little more about your work. How would you describe it? 

Mackenzie Mabin:  I would describe my work as bringing ideas, memories and feelings about my family into a physical object using sculpture. I enjoy working hands on bringing nostalgia to life, and I somehow find myself making art that takes a significant amount of time to complete. I would like to think the pieces show the care and time spent, but also the memories associated with them. I do not think by looking at my wood pieces you would instantly make a connection to the relationship I have with my siblings, but I hope the viewer sees the effort and process that went into making it.

AM:  When did you decide to study art/be an art major? How did you decide you wanted to be an artist?

MM:  I originally started my college career at community college as a Liberal Arts Major, even though I took many art classes in highschool, I was afraid of commiting to art because I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out. After my first semester I decided that I wanted to pursue art, and switched my major to Fine Arts. Lucky for me, I instantly fell in love with the classes and those that surrounded me and pushed me to continue. After graduating from Mercer, I decided that I would continue my education in Fine Arts at The College of New Jersey.

AM:  In your artist statement, you discuss family as a focus in your work. What role does nostalgia and memory play in your work? How do you find inspiration?

MM:  Before coming to The College of New Jersey, I had a hard time figuring out what I should make art about. In capstone classes, it stresses that you need to have a meaning or find a meaning within your work, it was something that really frustrated me. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just make art for the sake of wanting to. Searching for reasons to back up what I was making, it wasn’t until my grandparents passed away that I truly felt like I had something to express through my art. I treasure the time that I spend with my family and it seems like it is uncommon for families today to enjoy spending time together. For inspiration, I try to reflect on my past and find truly happy snippets of moments that I have shared with family members. It is something that is much more personal to me then the viewers but I think that allows for them to make their own connections to the pieces themselves.

AM:  Which studio class has been the most valuable to you and your growth as an artist?

MM:  I would say that Sculpture has been the most valuable class that I have taken in my four years in college. I enjoy painting and drawing, but it was never my strongest drive to make art. Sculpture is a class where I felt most passionate and able to make whatever I wanted without necessarily having a defined meaning for. There were no defined guidelines that you needed to follow, you could make anything from anything and just have fun. I ended up taking it three times over the course of four years and would have continued to take it if it was offered!

AM:  Which is more important to you, process or content? (Or both, or neither?)

MM:  I think the process is more important to my art practice. In my current works, I have spent many hours on just one piece, embroidery alone took days to complete. Although the driving inspiration is based on content, without the process it would be meaningless.

AM:  What was the process of deciding the works to be displayed in the show?

MM:  Without having to be constricted to a physical space that is being shared, it made it easier to pick which works to be displayed online. There is no limit to the amount of pictures you can share, and you can show exactly how you want people to look at your pieces. The only thing that may be difficult is the viewer being unable to envision the size of each piece.

AM:  How would you describe your work in only 3 words?

MM:  Family, personal, and labor-intensive

AM:  What are your top 3 studio essentials?

MM:  My top 3 studio essentials would have to be:

  • Some up beat music, usually Disney music, or The Office on autoplay.
  • Sketchbook and a woodless pencil.
  • A small snack so I don’t need to get up while working!