We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Lucking and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Public art projects, by their nature, have to be fluid, since there are so many influences (engineering, community input, site changes, etc) that can impact the design of the piece. I always make sure I have a very clear understanding of the core of my project. That way, when I’m presented with a situation where I have to make change to a design, I can evaluate whether the change will impact what I’m trying to accomplish. If the change is incidental, or I can figure out a way to make it an improvement, great! But if the changes lead to a situation where they lessen the impact of the piece, it might be time to step back, evaluate the project as a whole, and see if there is a completely different way of approaching the project.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a public artist. My projects integrate art into public pedestrian spaces like parks and transit facilities. I’m a one-person independent shop, and I work primarily with city agencies, collaborating with architects, engineers, and community members to design pieces that are unique to each site. The best career move I ever made was to find a mentor who was willing to let me work with him. I learned all sorts of things about how to put a proposals and project together.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Getting out into the desert, to get a better sense of the real Sonoran landscape, is always my first destination. For the less mobile, the Desert Botanical Garden is great. For the more outdoorsy, trails around South Mountain, and farther north are my favorites. A drive down to Mexico, with stops at Biosphere II and Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Farm, and San Xavier Mission, and Bisbee is a great long day trip.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m incredibly grateful to the network of public art project managers here in Arizona. Most of them are artists themselves, and do amazing things to support the creation of great projects. They are constantly looking for ways to bring new artists and voices into the public art realm.