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12 Questions: Mollie Oblinger

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

Martin Dresslerby Steven Millhauser was an important book to me during graduate school.

I loved Simple Pictures are Bestby Nancy Willard Illustrated by Tomie dePaola when I was a kid, but as I look at it now it is clear that it has had an impact on my artwork.

2. What are you currently working on?

I just finished a large series working with silhouettes of non-native plant and fish species reported in Lake Michigan. Currently, I am reading and thinking about the next body of work.

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

Many people told me that I could not be an artist or that I was not good enough. I think that those comments fueled me to prove them wrong.

4. What is your most unusual habit?

I save and reuse things more obsessively than most.


5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

Theresa Pfarr. I love her paintings.

6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? What is your studio like? Could you share an image?

I guess my table. I work with so many different materials that my tools change frequently.

The photo is an old studio. I just moved into a new space. It is a “sleeping room” in the basement of an apartment building.

7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

I always go for a walk. Woods, prairie, even city sidewalks-the location doesn’t matter as much as the action. It helps me solve problems or clear my head.

8. Who/What influences your work?

My work is influenced by the environment. Recently, I have been reading and thinking about the Great Lakes watershed. Sometimes I collaborate with poet C. Kubasta and form text from her poetry in clay.

9. Do you collect anything?

Not a specific item, but I frequently pick up things I find on my walks. When I was a kid, my mom always discovered things in my pockets when she did the laundry. I remember my dad bringing home an old printer’s drawer one day. He painted it and told me I could keep things, but I had to empty my pockets! I still have that drawer hanging in my studio filled with little bits from everywhere I’ve lived.

10.  What words of advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t take other peoples’ advice so seriously.

11.  In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice? 

 I have finally accepted that I can’t always control my schedule.

12.  Share an inspiring image.

Mollie's work is available on ARTSY and on view at James May Gallery as a part of the exhibition: SOMATIC SHAPES.

Exhibition dates: Sept 5- Sept 30

James May Gallery

213 Steele Street

Algoma, WI 54201


Thu-Sat 10-5

Sun 1-5

Mon 10-1

*or by appointment


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