By Amanda Hebing | Photo by Audrey Jacobs
In Celtic folklore, Brigid is known as the goddess of craftsmanship, particularly, of metalsmithing. In most other cultural legends, the deity of metalsmithing normally is portrayed by a burly man, not by a woman.
Local artist Stacey Mrva is a reincarnation of that mythological goddess. The picture of a woman artist belongs to that of a woman at an easel not with a torch and metal. Mrva’s haven is inside the Rochester Hungerford building; here, she creates metal sculptures for commission and contractors. While Stacey has a full-time day job, she still hounds away in her studio twenty-five to thirty hours a week working with her favorite tools, her hands.
Mrva wasn’t always interested in steel; her first love was fashion. Growing up, she was surrounded by women like her mother and grandmother who taught her how to sew and paint. While attending Fairport High School, she was introduced to metal. Mrva found metal to be a very “forgiving” art material due to its simplicity, its organic state. Metal gave her endless possibilities to create…
The artist decided to mold her two passions and major in jewelry making at Syracuse University. From there, she started to shy away from her jewelry making and began to form metal sculptors instead.
By looking through Mrva’s work, one can see the flowing movement of the metal mimicking the “grow and flow” of nature. Mrva looks to nature for inspiration as she turns a thin, straight sheet of metal into something elegant. Her pieces begin as ideas, like the movement of a tree or a curvature in a vine. They are then are drawn on a pattern and laid on a table. The metal is modeled and shaped, finally bringing her image to life. Throughout this process, even the original pattern turns into its own original art work with the leftover burns and markings.
For Mrva, the most rewarding aspect of her work is, “having a picture in mind and then having it in front of [me].” She never titles of her work as she wants her audience to find their own interpretation. As her art reflects nature; she wants her message to be just as organic.
Like legendary Brigid, Mrva is a female artist in a male-dominating art form. She sees herself on the same level as any male metalsmither.“My goal is to never make anything I can’t lift myself,” explains Mrva. Working with a light material, she easily moves her work without help.
For Mrva, the worst setback is when she is between commissions, as she is used to constantly working with her hands. When work is not coming in regularly, Mrva feels the overwhelming need to “keep her hands moving,” and works on projects of her own.
Mrva is happy to call Rochester ideal place for an artist’s home. Mrva loves Rochester as it’s affordable, close to her supportive family and the fact that there are others in the area who share her passion for art. With the large community of artists in Rochester, there are great opportunities to showcase work and network with others.
The Hungerford building holds an open studio night the first Friday of every month. The doors to everyone’s studios are open so that wandering art fans can see how local artists bring our city to life. Rochester is home to Mrva’s work that she has made for various patrons, which includes our very own Rochester Woman Magazine.
So what does the future hold for our local metalsmither? Mrva hopes to get back into the gallery scene. Mrva will also be opening her studio doors for the Hungerford Building “Open Studio Night” in efforts to further connect with the community. To all potential Rochester artists out there, Mrva gives this advice. “Be determined and be open.”
As we ended the interview, Mrva mentioned to me the idea she had of having a “girls night” in her studio where women could come and put together metal projects in an effort to show that women have that sense of brandish instinct to turn something cold and flaccid into a work of beauty and grace. I can only imagine that if the Celtic goddess Brigid was running around Rochester in a human form, she would take on the appearance of Stacey Mrva.
For more information on Stacey Mrva, visit her website http://www.staceymrva.com