Q+A: DM Wilding, Creatively Wild Art Studio

Donna-Mareé Wilding is the founder and CEO of Creatively Wild Art Studio. Better known as “DM,” she was born in Auckland, New Zealand and has worked all over the world, including England, France, and Italy. She brought Creatively Wild to Dumbo a decade ago, and has been  running an incredible range of art programming for toddlers to adults in DUMBO and across the City ever since.

DM & her team at Creatively Wild are a beloved neighborhood stalwart -- it wouldn't be DUMBOWEEN without an art project with DM at the helm! In recognition of DM's amazing contributions to DUMBO, we are honoring her with a 2019 Dumbo Dozen Award. We sat down with DM to learn more about her story.

DUMBO is community oriented and passionate about the neighborhood, which works well with us because that’s what we are all about: giving back to the community.

DM Wilder

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started your studio in DUMBO?

I’ve been teaching art for over 20 years, and I’m coming up to my tenth year in in DUMBO. I started in a little space at The Rabbit Hole, which was in the basement on Washington Street, at the very back of the building. As we started to expand, we took over the space next door, knocked down the walls to make more room, and eventually ended up taking over the whole building.

Did something specific draw you to DUMBO?

DUMBO is community oriented and passionate about the neighborhood, which works well with us because that’s what we are all about: giving back to the community. Our work extends beyond Dumbo, though! We work across all five boroughs.

DM in Creatively Wild Studios, at 98 Water St.
DM in Creatively Wild Studios, at 98 Water St.

What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in the neighborhood over the past years?

More young families, which I think is wonderful, and people with dogs. There are also more community events, which make it like being in a little village in the middle of the city. It’s exciting to see that growth and grow with it. This is a great place for kids. Because it is so community-oriented, there’s lots for free events for them to do and be together as a family.

How has the art scene changed in the neighborhood?

There was lots of art when I moved here. I used to hang out at 68 Jay Street Bar, and there were lots of artists still living and working here at that point.  Now I find there’s been a shift to other mediums- more tech based arts companies, like film & graphic design firms, who are embracing art in a broader sense.

 What do you think of the change?

In a financial sense, I think it’s been good. Its does bring a different vibe, but I kind of also miss the gritty, artsy kind of vibe that was going on. So, it’ s good and bad, in my opinion. As a visual artist, I’m naturally bent towards visual, and that’s being supported by offering subsidized studio space at places like Smack Mellon, which I’d love to see more of.

Does any other local art stick out to you in DUMBO?

I love A.I.R. Gallery. I like what they stand for, being a female oriented gallery. Generally there’s more male artists in the public eye, so it’s nice to have a gallery designated to that. I like the topics they promote, and think they are an amazing bunch of women.  I also love CAM and his bright elephants.

 What role do you see for art in a modern city?

I think art always belongs, no matter what or where. I would like to see more murals painted by kids in the neighborhood. Some projects where the actually community gets involved. I think that would be very cool, to help create something and be able to own it.

What is your favorite spot in DUMBO?

I was born in New Zealand, so I love sitting up on the rocks overlooking the waterfront and taking in the view.