New Freedom artist Mary Magenta uses new ways and old to create

York Dispatch

Mary Magenta knew at the age of 11 that she wanted to be an artist.

Preparing to deliver her seventh child, her mother was bedridden, and Mary took over the household responsibilities, including looking after her siblings.

“I saw how much work that was, and I knew I didn’t want children, which was uncommon at the time,” the New Freedom resident said.

Mary Magenta, a mixed-media artist, poses with a design she created at her New Freedom home tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. She has found a niche with repurposing feed bag material into various sized bags for a multitude of uses. Bill Kalina photo

What Magenta knew was that she wanted to be an artist, making her own money and commanding responsibility for only herself. She got her wish, producing various forms of artwork for her Frog Farm Arts business.

Having artistic parents, and thus the materials on hand to create art, didn’t hurt.

Later in life, working as an artist-in-residence in Seattle, she headed an art program at a city park. She says grandparents and grandchildren worked in tandem.

“I wanted to make very sure at the end that children had art supplies to take home because I really think that made a big difference in my life,” Magenta said.

Her start in the artistic world began with the desire to create a gift and turned into a lifelong pursuit and artistic resource for her.

In high school, Magenta created a unique 1973 calendar as a gift.

“I hand-made a calendar with magic marker and a sketchbook," she said. "I handwrote every single date of the year.”

Magenta still has that 1973 calendar, rife with astrological signs and musical lyrics of the day.

“I never would have thought, back then, 44 years ago, that I’d still be making calendars today,” she said. She’s produced one every year featuring her artwork. She hosted 40th anniversary bicoastal art shows featuring all the calendars.

The evolution of the calendars now has them professionally printed and shipped internationally.

A more recent project for Magenta is spurred by her environmental sensibilities.

In her travels, she noticed a woman placing some colorful plastic-fabric horse feed bags in the garbage. Magenta couldn’t resist asking to have them.

“What are you going to do with them?” the woman asked, according to Magenta.                                                 

“I don’t know yet, but I will figure it out,” Magenta replied.

Artist Mary Magenta stacks some of the bags she'd created from used feed bags outside her New Freedom home Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. The mixed-media artist has found a niche with repurposing the material into various sized bags for a multitude of uses. Bill Kalina photo

She now collects these bags and forms the fabric to make rugged, multi-shaped and multi-use bags. She said she “messed up the first six or so” bags she tried to create.

“But since I got it I have not looked back and it’s been really a path I didn’t think I’d be taking,” Magenta said.

“It’s so important to me to do whatever I can for the earth, and right now it’s keeping all this plastic out of the landfill,” she said.

By repurposing the bags, Magenta hopes to plant a seed in people’s minds about thinking ecologically.

“Let’s try to reuse and think ‘What else can we have in our world that we were going to throw away?’”

Magenta is always on the look-out for these feed and seed bags. If you have any, text her at 270-792-1057. She’ll come get them.