|Mary Fielding McCleary, "Traveler," Chine collé a la poupeé polymer-gravure, edition of 24, 2012.|
Mary Fielding McCleary is best known for her amazing yet puzzling “paintings.” I wrote that with quotes because they are most often described as paintings, but in reality they are intricately built, dense collages made up of what I perceive as the flotsam and jetsam of contemporary living: discarded plastic parts, wooden coffee sticks, bits of string, bits of colorful paper all minutely configured to make up almost photo-realistic scenes that may (or may not) have narrative. They read like ancient tesserae works with content that may as easily come from the materials that make the work. Named Texas Artist of the Year in 2011 by the Art League of Houston, Mary's work has had international acclaim.
|Mary Fielding McCleary, "Between Darkness and Light," 2006|
In 2005, Mary and I planned on working together for the first time. We floundered about as to how to transition her way of working into a printmaking technique without simply reproducing one of her finished paintings. Mary revealed that all of her large works begin with an underpainting worked out in a monochromatic method. Most often this is referred to as grisaille, and creating it helped her plan and shape the finished collage work. When she showed me an example of her grisaille, we decided to go forward with making a polymer-gravure etching using a specially created grisaille painting as its starting point. From that first collaboration came “Fallen, Fallen, Light Renew” and “Between Darkness and Light.”
This year, Mary has returned to collaborate on two new etchings and we are now in the process of printing two editions of these images which were created in the same way. Mary chose two images that might seem radically different from each other, but I think of them as two movements from the same symphony that she is composing. Her work moves into the dark, mysterious realm at times and can turn and go into a space of lyric poetry. We are pleased to have these two new works underway, and want to offer them as pre-published works to her collectors.
The first, “Traveler,” features a suburban male, perhaps a young teen, facing us with a full “war paint” face. He is defiant, and he is outside partially dressed in what appears to be winter. Suburbia is decked out in holiday décor but the decorations are askew and puzzling. Is he defiant to the culture and yearning for the primitive? Is he deluding himself that he doesn’t belong to the times and place around him? Can we even side with him or the culture? What kind of separation has happened here?
|Mary Fielding McCleary, "Swan," Polymer-gravure etching, edition of 24, 2012.|
Just when we have been drawn into this tumult, we look to her other etching, “Swan,” and find a dark, watery world upon which a swan effortlessly swims. He is solid upon liquid. There are no questions, but there is reassurance that all is right and all is good.
If you are interested in either of these classic McCleary images, they are currently in production, and pre-publication prices will be available only until the prints are signed before Christmas.