Q: Where are you from, how old are you, and where do you live now?
A: I grew up in Duluth and the surrounding woods. I am 40 and live in Stillwater.
Q: Are you self-taught, or do you have formal training in art?
A: I took many art and photography classes in high school and college. I have a little bit of training from them, but I am mostly self-taught. It is the same with writing, but I have learned quite a bit from other poets online and off the last four years.
Q: In what media do you work these days?
A: I use a multitude of media, often collaborating two or more together with my poetry. I work with photography, painting, textiles, collage, crafts (leather, wood, bead) and sculpture. I am a free verse poet who works with form once in a blue moon.
Q: What are the most unusual materials or tools you use in your art, if any?
A: Stinky wet rawhide, driftwood, awl, feathers and stones to name a few.
Q: What usually inspires you in your art? Does your art tend to have commonalities of theme, color, texture or design?
A: Often, my works are a collaboration of poetry and art. My poetic writings and artistic touches reflect my Ojibwe and Celtic heritages along with the ponderings I have being a 40-something American mother. The common themes seen in my work are nature, spirituality, and ponderings of life.
Q: How do you market your art?
A: Through art shows and books. Currently, I am working on two poetry books. One integrates my visual art “Spirit Songs.” In addition, I recently partnered with another artist in a publication of photography and duel poetry titled “When Spirits Touch.”
Q: At what price range is your art offered?
A. Photos are less expensive then paintings, averaging $40 for a photo and $200 for a painting. Books range from $10 to $20.
Q: What is it about your art to which people seem to respond?
A: Overall, I think people respond to the touch of Native in my work. I am told my poetry has a beautiful flow.
Q: What is the most rewarding part about creating your art?
A: When people gain insight and relate to my work.
Q: What is the most challenging part?
A: I have multiple sclerosis, and at times my hands do not work for art or writing. I write slowly on the computer during those times, hoping it isn’t permanent. I can’t imagine not creating. I’d say [it's as scary as] it is challenging.
Q: Do you have a "claim to fame" as an artist?
A: I won the Made Here poetry contest last year (sponsored by The Loft Literary Center and Hennepin Theatre Trust). My winning poem “North and South” was displayed on the Hennepin Theatre's marquee in downtown Minneapolis for three months.
Q: Are you a full-time artist or do you have a day job?
A: I am disabled from the progression of MS, but that doesn’t stop me from working from home. I have run a journal of poetry and art, “The River Muse,” for three years online. Recently, our first print issue came out. In addition, I started Twowolvz Press a little over a year ago, a small press that publishes chapbooks of poetry and memoirs. Neither are profitable but reward me in other ways. I have high hopes to build Twowolvz Press up to be profitable someday.
Q: What else do you do in your spare time?
A: In the summer, I attend powwows. I am a women’s traditional dancer. I have a 14-year-old daughter named Willow who attends Stillwater Junior High. Recently, I got engaged to Tommy Blackwolf. We plan on getting married next summer.
For more information about Urke, access www.rivermaria.com.