Continuing her interest in art, Mailer studied at the New York Studio School, and later took up graphic design at the School of Visual Arts, both located in New York City. With her strong background, she worked for ARTnews—one of the most widely read art magazines—in the graphic design department.
After Mailer married and had a child, she found her way back into the world of fine art, beginning with collage in the late 1990s. From there, she moved on to mixed media works and then acrylic on canvas, rendering figures against a rich, patterned background. “Then I had the idea of pulling them out of the rectangle. I like the way a silhouette is punched out,” she says. She worked on life-size Masonite pieces, designed for a wall, which then turned into freestanding silhouettes that are painted on both sides and, she says, “have two different realities.”
Her exuberant female figures in her collages and paintings have evolved into silhouetted aluminum works, which dance in exhilarated movements, arms flying and legs kicking. She says they relate to her first husband and father of her daughter Isabella, Michael Moschen, who was a juggler with a love of dance.
These silhouettes are carefully patterned with symbols that relate to aspects of Mailer’s life: Peppers and artichokes are connected to her mother, who was a wonderful cook; the trombone is the instrument of Peter McEachern, Mailer’s husband and a jazz musician; and the leopard is an homage to her grandmother, who loved leopard patterns.
Since her father’s passing in 2007, Mailer and her eight siblings continue to go to Provincetown in the summer for a reunion. “I check in every year to put my toes in the bay. It’s my annual baptism, my annual toe-dipping,” she says with a laugh. On these yearly summertime vacations Mailer often exhibits at the Berta Walker Gallery on Bradford Street. Her work at the gallery includes paintings of female figures, and large aluminum silhouettes of dogs and cats.