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Daniel Mariotti: In His Own Words
Nov, 16, 2021
Daniel Mariotti: In His Own Words
Born in Mesa but raised part-time in Zamość, Poland, and part-time in Phoenix, Daniel Mariotti is a multimedia artist who accidentally fell in love with art when he rebelled against his parents’ aspirations for him to become a doctor or lawyer.
Daniel describes the process of artistic creation as “a bottomless pit of ideas.” Currently, he’s exploring topics of mental health, behavioral science, biomimicry, and space in his artwork, while approaching abstraction as a puzzle that has no predetermined rules.
Daniel holds a BFA in photography from Arizona State University. He currently serves as the director of marketing at Bollinger Atelier and has worked for Free Arts of Arizona and Phoenix Center for the Arts. Daniel’s artwork has been exhibited internationally in galleries in Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as locally at places like Arizona Center and Northlight Gallery.
Keep scrolling to learn more about Daniel’s inspirations, the experiences that have shaped him, and his attempts at trying to reach the bottom of his creative pit.
“The mix between technicality and storytelling in art to illustrate and share complex or abstract ideas is a satisfying puzzle to tackle. It keeps me coming back for more.”
Daniel Mariotti. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: What first inspired you to be an artist?
Daniel Mariotti: My inspiration to start creating art was kind of stupid—to spite my parents. They had aspirations for me to become a doctor or a lawyer, the classic parental high-achieving expectations. I thought to myself, “What’s literally the opposite of all those things?” And so I chose art—specifically photography and printmaking.
I’m thankful for this experience because as I was pursuing it, I truly fell in love. The mix between technicality and storytelling to explain and share complex abstract ideas is a satisfying puzzle to tackle. It keeps me coming back for more. I feel like artists have a bottomless pit of ideas that we want to explore, and so for me, trying to reach the bottom of that pit is what keeps me motivated to create.
Daniel Mariotti, Dark Snow, 2018. Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: What media do you enjoy working in, and why?
DM: This is a really tough question to answer because I work with so many different media types, including drawing, painting, and mixed-media. I think I’m most comfortable with photography but only because photography is my day-to-day as an artisan at a foundry. But sculpture is part of my visual vernacular. It all comes down to the story I’m trying to tell. That’s typically what determines which media I use.
Daniel Mariotti, May 23rd, 2017. Taken from the Hello Sunshine series. Altered Camera Film Photograph. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: What topics or subjects do you typically focus on?
DM: I’m currently exploring topics of mental health and stories of the moments that have shaped me. I am also interested in behavioral science, biomimicry, and space as metaphors and explorative jumping-off points to the personal narratives I am using to create with. For instance, my work in “Hello, Sunshine” draws from Einstein’s theory of relativity to explore the gravity of depression. It’s a book of 31 photographs taken over 31 days of journaling that I self-published a few years ago.
PhxArt: What first drew you to abstraction?
DM: When you draw a face, it’s easy to see if something is “wrong.” Faces are the things we see every day, and thus it is easy to see when the proportions you’ve drawn are a little off or the shadows fall in ways that don’t make sense. Sometimes it can be intentional—like in abstract art—but these visual cues can feel limiting. There are two ways to go about drawing faces—doing it by the book, or making things wrong on purpose like Picasso. In abstraction, the only baseline is your gut, and because of that, it’s very freeing—like talking to a therapist—though oftentimes, your gut is giving you the puzzle pieces and you still have to figure out where they go. To sum it up, the experimentation aspect of abstraction is what pulls me in to figure out my method of leaving a mark.
Daniel Mariotti, Rigor Samsa, 2016. Watercolor, resin, dirt, charcoal. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: Who are your greatest artistic influences?
DM: The first person’s art that I saw that influenced me was Brett Schieszer’s Cognitive Umwelten lithographs and Mark Pomilio’s Cell Study drawings. But honestly, I don’t know. I’m bad at remembering specifics. I get inspired by having conversations with people that lead me down rabbit holes I’d never think about. Consider civic practice work, for example—learning about that and reading about projects such as the work by Postcommodity called From Smoke and Tangled Waters We Carried Fire Home, which was a sculptural graphic score for solo jazz performances that honored the legacy of African-American self-determination in Pittsburgh. Artworks like that—in which the work goes deeper than the surface, and where the process of it being made is oftentimes more important than the final visual—is so inspiring.
PhxArt: What’s something you’re currently working on or have recently exhibited?
DM: I’ve got a couple of projects I’m working on currently. Tak, Slucham, which is a Polish phrase you use to pick up the phone and that translates to “Yes, I’m listening,” is supposed to be a precursor to the Hello, Sunshine series I mentioned earlier. In Tak, Slucham I comb through my past and try to pick certain experiences that I think shaped and influenced me to try to find a representation of them in objects. For instance, I’m creating this bronze paper boat floating on a surface that mimics water or fabric, inspired by a memory of my father.
My dad worked a lot while I was growing up. Having time to spend with him was rare, but one Friday, he had taken a dedicated day off to spend time with me. We ended up learning how to make paper boats, and the goal was to have them float down the storm drain pathway on our street. I’m not going to lie—we sucked at making these boats. They ended up not even moving, and the paper just got soggy. But, we made another and then just used a bed and sheets to mimic waters and played that way. That was a moment when I recognized how much he loved me even if he wasn’t there as much as I would have liked. It also was a moment that taught me how to react positively to trying something, even though it failed.
Daniel Mariotti, Sequence of Deterioration, 2020. Bronze. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: What can our community expect to see next from you?
DM: It’s been a slow year for me in terms of art making, so I’m getting back into working on projects. I’ll be working on a couple pieces for the Tak, Slucham project, making some music, and getting it recorded. I’ve had some ideas for re-releasing a second version of the Hello, Sunshine book, which is currently sold out. I have also started a project called Views from the Sun, which is a place for me to share my continued growth and education in mental health. I’m also a co-founder of New Cadre, which focuses on crowdsourcing innovative solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—or businesses with 50 or fewer employees.