Maria Kelly is a former middle school teacher and Education professor from Minneapolis. After moving to Michigan in 2014, she began to take ceramic classes at the Creative Arts Studio in Royal Oak. She began to sell her pieces after a former classmate saw some of what she was making on Facebook and asked if they could purchase some of her work. The name “Miss Maria” comes from her years in the classroom. When not creating in her studio with her clay buddy, Faye, she works at the Purple Rose Theatre as an actor.
Why did you choose to partner with Yellow Door to sell your artwork?
I really like the other artists represented there. The store supports local artists, which I greatly
appreciate. How long have you been creating your art work?
I began doing ceramics in 2014.
Do you have any notable awards or accomplishments?
I am most proud of the commissions I have done. My favorite was for a Purple Rose Theatre fundraising event.
What makes your art work unique or distinctive?
Working with clay makes me happy and so I try and have my work express that to others. I’ve heard people describe my work as whimsical. As I do mostly one of a kind pieces, there aren’t too many duplicates out there.
What inspired you to start creating your art work & how did you turn it into a business?
I started taking classes at the Creative Arts Studio in Royal Oak. Once I started posting things I had made, individuals began to ask me to make things for them and it took off from there.
What do you most love about the creative process?
Most of the work I have sold thus far has been special commissions. I love listening to a person’s ideas and then working to make their idea come alive. Pet portraits are a special challenge as I try to capture the personality of the pet as well as the appearance. What do you least love about the business side of creating & selling art?
Pricing is difficult for me. I want to make sure that if a person wants something I’ve made that cost isn’t prohibitive. However, I also highly respect artistic work and believe artists should be paid for their time, materials, and skill.
What do you enjoy doing besides making art?
I work as an actor with the Purple Rose Theatre. I also love tinkering in my garden. What do you remember wanting to be when you grew up?
My ideas changed almost every year. I thought I wanted to be a doctor for a long time. I think the idea that has lasted the longest is “author/writer.” I’ve always thought I would write a children’s book some day.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Faye (Another YD Artist!) is definitely on my list! I am also a huge fan of the folks at Gaya Ceramic in Bali. Outside of ceramics, I have always loved impressionist painters – Monet, Van Gogh, and Mary Cassatt.
What are some of your favorite reads?
I’m not much of a reader these days, unfortunately. I do have a sizable collection of children’s picture books, however. I used to use them extensively as a classroom teacher. Leo Lionni comes to mind, and Tomi Ungerer’s picture books are gorgeous to look at and read.
What do you like to listen to?
These days I’ve been listening to Brad Phillips. An amazingly talented musician I met working at the Purple Rose. We collaborated on an art piece for one of his recent albums: The Roots Music Strings: Breaking Free.
Quotes you love or live by:
"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in."
Any memorable places you’ve traveled?
I went on two different ceramic tours with the International Ceramic Artists Network and loved them both. The first one I did was in Italy and the second was in Bali. While in Italy, we traveled mainly through Tuscany and the countryside was just beautiful. We met some lovely people who truly helped to make the experience quite memorable. While in Bali, we worked with the wonderful folks at Gaya Ceramics who also served as our tour guides throughout the area. In both places, I was struck by how much art is everywhere you look. "Miss Maria Made ceramics can be whimsical and are intended to make folks smile. One of a kind pieces for you, your home, or garden." You can see more from Maria online and at Yellow Door Art Market!