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Multi-talented artist draws inspiration for work from Montana roots

Multi-talented artist draws inspiration for work from Montana roots
Multi-talented artist draws inspiration for work from Montana roots
Multi-talented artist draws inspiration for work from Montana roots
Posted at 11:04 AM, Sep 29, 2022

BILLINGS — Most people have at least one thing they’re passionate about, but one Billings woman has many talents and an interesting back story for each.

“My grandpa is really into music, and he’s the one who initially got me into it,” Mary Kate Teske said Tuesday. She remembers them driving around in a combine harvester on the farm where she grew up in eastern Montana and listening to music.

First came the interest in music, then playing an instrument. Her uncle played guitar, so she wanted to learn too.

“I’ve been self-taught since I was about 16,” the 28-year-old said.

Multi-talented artist draws inspiration for work from Montana roots

Teske moved to Billings when she was 12 years old, but she still spent summers on the farm as a girl and feels a deep connection to those roots.

“First and foremost, farming is my passion and being connected to the land,” she said.

And she has a handful of other passions that fall right below farming.

“My photos influence my writing, and my writing influences my music and you know it just is a circle,” Teske said.

She is an illustrator, writer, musician and photographer.

With her 35 mm film cameras and 1960s Dodge Lancer, she traveled around Montana taking photos. “I have over 100 towns that I’ve documented,” she said.

Multi-talented artist draws inspiration for work from Montana roots

And every song she has written has a story. Her song, "June Rise", comes from this summer's flooding. She explained that a June rise is what they call the time when the snow melts from the mountains and the water levels rise. She was joking with her grandma that she wanted to go swimming and her grandma said she couldn't because it was June rise.

She is almost finished with her nine-song album, just finishing the last song, the story of her grandparents' gas station they owned in Seattle, Washington, where her parents and aunts and uncles all fell in love.

Band member Robin Martinez feels inspired when playing with Teske.

“I feel really fortunate because she’s very talented and she’s writing about Montana, about her experience in Montana,” Martinez said.

Teske’s music is quickly becoming popular on social media and after going 10 years since playing a show, she now has two coming up. One is in Billings at Kirks Grocery on Nov. 12 and one in Missoula at the Zootown Arts Community Center on Nov. 18.

“Music has really opened the door for so many things that have been locked away in my mind for so long,” Teske said.

With many talents and passions, she intends on sharing her creativity with the world for as long as she can.

“I will continue to do this until the day I die because I just firmly believe that everybody needs art, everybody needs passion and music and all the things I want to invest my life into, so it just gives me hope,” she said.