Your Interview Mary J. Varher
Mary J. Varher
Designer, Entertainment, Artist, Blogger, Educator, Engineer
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Mary j. Varher and I am a graduate of the National School of Classical and Contemporary Dance of the National Institute of the Arts of Mexico with a degree in classical dance specialized in teaching where I had a first approach to lighting in one of the subjects that I was taught in the degree. I also have a master's degree in educational sciences.
Since there was no formal training in lighting in Mexico when I studied at the university, when I left the university I focused on looking for different lighting courses as well as lighting consoles.
When I was studying at the university, we had to design the lighting for the choreographic work that we were going to present in the third semester, I already knew the aspect of light since I started dancing very young, but I had not been aware until that exam choreographic; and obviously I was impressed with what can be achieved with light and in love with it, which is why I decided to become a stage lighting designer.
Tell us about your work – is there a specific type of project you like to work on or an area you specialise in and why?
When I became aware of what can be achieved with light and its effect on the viewer, I was mesmerized with that potential. I wondered how something so natural could be so impressive? So I decided to dedicate myself to study and learn about the world of lighting. When I realized the potential that I had in my hands, I felt that I could not stop, I needed more and more projects in which to collaborate as a lighting designer; Fortunately, most of the projects I collaborated on gave me the freedom I needed to experiment, but when it didn't, I took advantage of my own dance company to experiment both choreographically and lighting.
However, and due to the great machism that exists in my country, I had to improve my skills, ending up not only as a designer, but also as a technician and programmer; which led me to be summoned by OCESA to be the head of lighting for the Nuevo Teatro Libanés located in Mexico City, thanks to my knowledge in programming different types of consoles, especially for the consoles ETC.
Together with two friends we have formed Lightinggirls.org in Mexico to support all those who are in the lighting industry (mainly concerts and shows).
What project are you most proud of and why?
I think that the project that I am most proud of is actually several, but I am inclined towards the following:
The first National Auditorium that I did back in 2013, I had little experience and suddenly I had to do one of the most important venues in my country with a Mexican folklore show.
The second is, without a doubt, the opportunity in 2017 to enter to do a show at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, as a dancer I had already danced there, but having in my hands the responsibility of a theatrical show in the most important venue and with more history for artists in Mexico was incredible and also being able to charge for my work was the plus, because to be honest, I could have been able to do it for free as long as I had said venue on my list of venues.
And finally, the Teatro Metropólitan that I did in 2022 with San Pascualito Rey (one of the bands I work with), since in Mexican rock that venue is of the utmost importance for bands of a certain level.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
I have had many challenges throughout my career, such as keeping up to date with my knowledge, but the main one is not to get lost, it is easy to go from "I can do it and you will not underestimate me" to "I am the best and nobody can beat me" ; I know a lot of people with that attitude in the middle and when you see their work it's not relaive to their attitude, so I try to stay as humble and focused as possible.
How does light inspire you?
For me, light is the most important thing on the planet, think about it, let's start with life, thanks to chemical reactions driven by solar energy, we have the beauty that surrounds us. Now having as humanity the ability to manipulate light (even if it is artificial) is something wonderful and incredible and also being able to be part of those beings of light who dared to work with it makes me feel privileged...
In truth, there is nothing I enjoy more than seeing an illuminated landscape (natural or urban) or a show with well-worked lighting.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
Biologically we are creators of life and so is light; It's time for us to come together to give life to great projects that I know we can all achieve, it's just a matter of believing in ourselves and not losing sight of our goals. Let's continue opening the way for those who come with new and great ideas.
“Let's continue opening the way for those who come with new and great ideas.”