“Wine Not?” – An interview with artist Mary Syring

[Wine Not – a term coined by Mary and I a few sips in of our chosen poison]

“Alright, do you have your wine, Dwaling?”

I ask Mary Syring as she tries to find good lighting in front of her window in San Francisco.

Once the proper lighting is found Mary reveal a beautiful vintage glass half full of whisky . . . I like this woman.

She is surrounded by her art, works in gouache & ink. There are also (and I’ll say  you may not realize what you’re looking at right away) post mortem photos of before before, vintage chachkies carrying faux flowers and potpourri. I find myself thinking This is a mood.

Mary syring is an incredibly talented artist living in the Bay Area. She reminds me of Stevie Nicks and a 90’s Nicole Kidman if they had a love child. Again, an absolute mood. Mary is influenced by the hertories, horror, and vintage styles. Her work often depicts vampires, ghosts, witches, banshees. Largely women in ritual. This is something Mary says fascinates her; Ritual.

Ritual- an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite.

  • A system or collection of religious or other rites

This is also what has pulled Syring to making candles and solid perfumes (much inspired by one of her favorite eras the 18th century). The magic behind ritual, putting her own energy into the rite. Before she partnered with a friend to start The Conjured Rose (their scented candle, and perfume co.) years earlier Mary would make ritual candles.

Candles created by Mary
Compact Victorian solid style perfume from The Conjured Rose
Locket Necklace perfume sample from The Conjured Rose

Looking around her I can see the rites, strung together to create her ritual which feeds her work.

GUA: So, what sparked your love for the horror genre?

MS: I know the exact moment! I was a kid and my brother asked me

You want to watch a movie about a big fish?”

     Of course it was the 1975 thriller Jaws. After that for weeks I could not sleep without the lights on.

GUA: Hahah, really? I had the opposite reaction after watching Jaws. I became obsessed with sharks . . . thanks mom lol. What draws you to it [horror]?

MS: Horror gives you the power to accept life’s imperfections. Sometimes things don’t end at a happily ever after standpoint, sometimes your world can be utterly flipped upside down, sometimes it can startle you and rip you so far apart from your comfort zone that you are left drinking it in weeks after experiencing it. It just makes you think. To me, this is what the horror genre embraces.

GUA: I really love how I can see that in your work. One of my favorite pieces is the one you did in representation of your endometriosis [see below]. It is absolutely stunning. I’m in awe of how brave you are to create something beautiful from something that I’m sure is frightening for a lot of women. How has it been received?

You’re Not Alone 

MS: It was received really well. The thing is, it was kind of sad because endometriosis is still premature. It took me so long to get an actual diagnosis. Thankfully, I found my doctor, they actually travel around the country teaching other doctors about it.  would get messages from women saying that they were dismissed or just told it was period cramps but never actually being taken seriously for endometriosis. It used to be diagnosed as mania.

GUA: Very archaic, like trying to send you to an asylum and give you a lobotomy.

MS: Yeah, exactly. And one asked if I could diagnose her. I was like “I’m not a doctor I cannot, but, I can’t tell you what I’ve been experiencing”. So, it was beautiful in the way that it created a connection and community.

GUA: That is beautiful. I love that. Do you consider yourself a feminist artist?

MS: Yes, I think of feminism as women Standing up for what they believe in, for freedom, women who believe in history of women.

GUA: I have to ask, I notice you don’t – at least that I have seen, use male characters in your work.

MS: Hahahah, I knew that was coming. I knew you were going to say that. I do have one.

[she goes to retrieve the piece in question]

GUA: But, I feel like he’s very femme.

MS: Yeah, he’s very beautiful.

GUA: He’s giving me Victorian Butch Queen Favorite. SO, may I ask why no guys?

MS: Men’s stories just don’t interest me, not hat I hate men. I love men I just believe there are other people to tell those stories.  

GUA: That is very true, and, they’ve been told ten fold and retold again. The comedian Michelle Wolf said “There’s nothing new for you to do, you’ve been to the moon, you’ve been all the presidents. Even if you were like ‘I’m going to win an olympic medal and turn into a lady’. . . you’d be the second.” Hahaha, I say that to say ,we’ve heard the his-stories.

MS: Exactly

GUA: What is your favorite era?

” Love you to the moon and back”

MS: Stylistically my favorite eras are the Edwardian, Victorian, and Rococo eras. So much detail, superstitions, and storytelling went into these centuries. I’m ridiculously inspired by their history, morbid curiosities and rituals.

GUA: Alright, last question. What have you learned about yourself though your art?

MS:  Growing up you have all these natural insecurities, all these feelings you struggle with “How can I fit in?” Followed by “I don’t want to be like everyone else.” As a young artist you go through the same cycle, it’s necessary to experiment with styles and mediums to figure out where you feel most at home, sometimes this process can take a long time. Sometimes you compare yourself to other artists and wonder why you can’t be like that.

From my art I’ve learned that although I am part of a community of creators, I am still my own being. It took me years to figure out that it doesn’t matter if my true style was widely accepted or not, that as long as I was happy with what I created that’s all that really mattered to me. My art taught me to fall in love with my second nature, it taught me to understand, it taught me to let go.

GUA: WOW, I’m over here feeling so inspired, as I am sure other artists will that read this. It has truly been a pleasure speaking and drinking with you, and getting to know you better. I cannot wait to see what you do next.

MS: I’ve got somethings up my sleeve.

I grow wide eyed and curious, but it is all very top secret. So, you’ll have to visit Mary’s Instagram and Facebook to see what is to come.

“Till death do us part”
The Conjured Rose Mary’s Instagram Mary’s Etsy Mary’s Facebook

Dont forget to check out the GUA Shop