Maria Moyer

Maria Moyer is a sculptor whose textured, diverse body of work is, as she calls it, a study in the “tension of opposites,” intrigued by the ways work can be simultaneously delicate and in-your-face, both refined and coarse. This pendulum-like philosophy carries over to Maria’s overall perspective—as she puts it “I appreciate complexity, [but] at my best, I’m able to simplify.” We visited her New York studio to talk about prized possessions, wine in bed, and discuss more high/low pairings.

On women who work for themselves:
When someone asks you to define your work, what do you say?
I’ve spent my life looking for the perfect words. I love words. Yet, words fail me at times. In my studio, I’m trying to say something without words—visceral and physical expression where words fall short and only form will do. And, I like that the work is not limited by the labels I give it, as others will affix their own meaning to it.
Have you thought much about the above question?
How do you want to be seen by others?
Exactly as I am.
What is something you are good at?
I appreciate complexity; however, when I’m at my best, I’m able to simplify.
"I appreciate complexity; however, when I’m at my best, I’m able to simplify."
What is something you are bad at?
Math—with the exception of symbolic logic.
What is your personal mantra?
-Laugh often—especially at myself. -Salt water is essential. -Keep learning. -Be kind, especially when it’s not easy.
What are you serious about?
Right now, warm weather. I’m serious about my friends and loved ones; I want to make life a bit softer and more fun for them. I’ve always been serious about the ocean and the natural world—its exquisite weirdness, limitless beauty, and our need to know more about it and protect it.
"I’m serious about my friends and loved ones; I want to make life a bit softer and more fun for them." 
What things will you never take seriously? 

TV news.




On your work:
Can you share a story of the inspiration behind a current piece you’re working on?
Inspiration is everywhere. I’ve always been focused on the idea of compression. Recently, I’ve been focused on images of slime mold and Lithops, which are a kind of succulent. These absolutely genius “forms” are both odd and heart-crushingly beautiful. Inspiration also comes from construction sites and architecture. I love the Musgum mud huts in Cameroon and have long been moved by the massive concrete forms of Corbusier, Kahn, and Lautner. All seem to celebrate and struggle with our relationship to nature.
You have worked in many different mediums: are there any materials you’re interested in working with in the future (perhaps unexpected ones?)
Sand and rubber are working their way into my thinking. There’s an interactive, installation idea I’m eager to manifest that will require brave participants and the right space.
Do you ever experience times of creative stagnancy? How do you push past it?
I don’t run out of ideas but there are times when I’m frustrated with what I’m making. In those uncomfortable hours, I show up and try things. Eventually, I figure it out.
You cite your work being informed “by the tension of apparent opposites”—can you articulate more about this?
I look at my work and see that it has always been about this place that is in between and both. I’m informed and inspired by industry and nature, by things that are both refined and coarse, fragile and brutal, verbal and non verbal. There’s a dynamic tension there. I like clay because of how it stretches between concept and process, feeling (I have to use my hands!) and seeing and that clay is just malleable mud until it’s heated to over 1000 degrees then becomes solid.




On beauty, style, self-image:
Do you have any sort of daily “uniform”? What are your signature clothing pieces?
In the studio, I guess my uniform is an old pair of 501s, skinny, long sleeve tees or Nili Lotan flannel, and I always wear a denim apron (a place to wipe my hands/tools). When I’m not in the studio, I like clothes that are easy but well-constructed with elegant details—including some vintage pieces and my laser-cut blouse and skirt from Apiece Apart, my Protagonist white blouse with a five-inch cuff, and Hope Stockholm trousers.
What colors do you wear most often?
Black, grey and white in winter; white and black in summer. Red lipstick might be my only consistent actual color. My beauty-industry pal Brooke Wall sent me a big bag of every imaginable shade and brand of red lipstick. I’ll never be able to use them all.
What is your favorite texture in a piece of clothing?
Lightweight cashmere.
What are some of your most treasured possessions?
Over the years, I’ve collected some wonderful chairs, including a recently-found 1964 white plywood Joe Columbo 4801 chair. Today I was relishing two little cast-bronze pieces—both were gifts—one from a family member, Riley Etheridge III (it’s a peanut) and the other from my friend, Lindsey Adelman (a little thistle pod).
Do you wear a fragrance? If so, what?
Mad et Len, Poivre with just a tad of old-school Kiehl’s musk oil.
Can you share a beauty-related “indulgence”?
My boyfriend and I have a a regular spa date together. Time with him is indulgent.
What are your spring essentials?
After this long, cold winter, I want to be outside and wear as little as possible and still be respectable.




On daily life, New York, routines:
Mary Oliver wrote that habits shape us: can you share a few moments from your daily routine?
A to-the-jugular question. Right now, I’m very focused on forming better daily habits. From the way I think and how I spend my time to the usual stuff around fitness.
Start the day with…coffee in bed.
End the day with…glass of wine in bed.
What are your favorite neighborhood haunts?
For inspiration downtown: BDDW, R & Company, De Vera, and The Future Perfect. For food: En. ACME. Waverly Inn.
Where do you go to be quiet in New York?
Our cottage in the Springs/Amagansett on Long Island. It is front row at The Nature Show—a perfect counterpoint to living in Manhattan.




What hour of the day feels most “yours”?
I do my best work between 10:00am and 3:00pm. Before then, I want to think. After, I want to play.
What do you eat for lunch?
If lunch could be drone-dropped so that I could keep working, it would be: mixed green salad with lemon, olive oil, and Maldon salt (very important) with grilled chicken.
What are you reading right now?
The latest issues of New Scientist and WSJ magazines.
What are some things you are currently really interested in?
Finding the right studio mate and hiring a new studio assistant. It’s spring—so I’m watching for birds returning from warm, winter locations. Yuzu.

Photography by TIM HOUT | Interview by LEIGH PATTERSON