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Tender Wild by Marisa Leilani Mustard

On view in the CCBC Gallery February 17 to March 28, 2021

Find the artist on Instagram!

Marisa Leilani Mustard is a painter based in Athens, Georgia. A self-taught artist, Marisa enjoys bringing life to everyday objects and spaces like guitars, mailboxes, light switches, and empty walls by enveloping them in her distinctly bright and bold designs. Always seeking to reconnect human nature to the natural world, the artist’s most beloved subjects are flowers and creatures, often nestled into fields of decorative pattern or transformed into patterns themselves.

The artist’s eye is drawn to the things in nature we often forget to savor, her subjects rendered with exuberant and captivating contrasts. Flowers we know to be generally small, delicate lifeforms are lovingly transmogrified into larger-than-life zaps of color and line. Birds, tigers, and jellyfish are suspended in planes of color or patterns so dense they seem to pulsate energy from the surface. From these subjects to the variety of surfaces she works with, Marisa reimagines the mundane to be magical, prompting that joyful and fleeting feeling of seeing familiar things in a new way.

This collection of twelve new paintings on wood panel are for sale at Creature Comforts’ downtown Athens taproom through March 28, 2021. The artist is generously donating 20% of proceeds from this exhibition to Get Artistigrantmaking efforts. Get Artistic aims to foster place attachment—to help more Athenians love Athens—by investing in the local creative economy. Learn more about Get Artistic by clicking here.

Not local? Review the CCBC Gallery Customer Purchase Guide (updated 3/9/2021) to view the paintings. Email inquiries to [email protected].


How did you get started making art? Did you go to school for art? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

I always knew I loved creating things but it wasn’t until I lived in New Orleans that I knew I wanted to (and could actually see myself) becoming a full time artist. I went to the New Orleans school of metalsmithing briefly but have no real formal training in painting. 

What draws you to return to painting flowers again and again? 

I absolutely love painting things I see in nature. I find it calming and relaxing. 

You’ve painted murals, guitars, mailboxes, light switches, even a piano. What draws you to work with so many different kinds of surfaces or objects that people can interact with every day?

I love painting functional art (especially outdoor functional art) because not only can the person purchasing the art enjoy it but also people passing by. It adds beauty to something regular which I love. 

You have a very distinct and recognizable art style. Do you have any advice for less experienced artists who are looking to find their creative voice?

My advice would be to practice like crazy. Keep a painting journal and paint something in it everyday. 

Is there anything else you’d like the world to know about you?

Hmmm…I love old trucks, really really spicy food and the blues. I dislike metal wind chimes. 

Learn more about Get Artistic and see the ways you can get involved in serving Athens’ creative community. You can also subscribe to the Get Artistic newsletter to get updates and opportunities sent directly to you.