Artist Profile: Jan Maret Willman
April 25, 2016
Local artist Jan Maret Willman won't abide to rules or limitations: "Don't tell me that I can't do something," she says. "Because I'll figure out a way to do it."
It's a rebellious streak that makes this artist stand apart from the rest.
During a sculpture class at the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis where she studied from 1977 to 1978, Maret Willman remembers working on a project that entertained one of her experimental ideas. At first, the teacher told her the piece would never make it through the drawing process. It did.
Doubtful, the teacher said Maret Willman's piece wouldn't make it through the firing process either. It did.
"At the end of the semester, he held up my piece and said, 'This piece is a perfect example of everything I've told you that you cannot do with this material," she says. "I proved him wrong and still have that piece that stands as a testament to breaking the rules and forging into new territory."
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Maret Willman has been an artist her whole life, from a little girl transforming mud into a piece of art or creating advanced sewing projects, despite her teacher's objections.
"I rebelled against the rules in art school," she says. "I wanted to think out of the box and do what I wanted. Over the course of my lifetime, that attitude has allowed me a lot more freedom of expression. I'll try things and push materials to their limits in ways other people won't."
Moving on from sculptures, in 2008, Maret Willman discovered a more etherial and fluid method of expressing herself through abstract painting. She was accustomed to chemical processing and glazes, not painting. However, later that year, she was commissioned to paint a mural in a home on Buffalo Pass. It was the first time she had ever created a painting of that magnitude, and soon after, she declared her new pursuit.
"Overall, my style remains really varied," she says. "It changes even throughout a body of work. I don't think my work will ever look the same or repetitive because I'm a renegade and I'll still go off in different directions."
Maret Willman's most recent series, "Cosmos," was inspired by her fascination with outer space and the images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Featuring a mix of mediums from charcoal, pencil, acrylic and oil to natural elements, she describes her work as mystical expressionism.
"People always ask me what my inspiration was," she says. "It's hard because I come from the feeling of it when I paint. How do you describe a feeling? You have words for happy or joy, but how do you describe how you feel when you are in that space?"
Maret Willman's work has been featured in numerous galleries and art events from Art in the Park to the Bust of Steamboat and First Friday Artwalk. She was also the featured cover artist for the Summer 2015 Yampa Valley Arts and Gallery Guide. Currently, her work is represented at Rogue West Gallery and Denver's Artwork Network gallery.