These pictures are from my series “Surface to Air”. It explores how water intersects with the earth and sky around it and corporeal and noncorporeal elements as they reflect or skim or otherwise exist across boundaries of matter and not-matter. During the first months of 2016 when life on earth appeared especially brutal and without meaning to me, this work led me to understand that I- we- intersect with the world in much the same way as the subjects of the pictures I pursued. The beauty I found here is not a corrective for depression or the barbarity of life in the late anthropocene, but it certainly helps.
Mary Becker Weiss
Sans Carapace: Without a Shield
“We choose subject matter we are drawn to for reasons we don’t
always understand, and such choices are critical to our exploration of
who we are.”
I began a series of portraits in 2015 called “Explorations.” Against my
innate inclination to control the outcome of each piece, in these
explorations of line and color and intensity, I had to learn to let go of
the reins. It didn’t come easily. I was surprised, sometimes disturbed
by the results. “Sans Carapace” which I created for Harlow Gallery’s
“It Takes a Community: Transforming Violence II” was a difficult
personal challenge. I struggled with how far I wanted to go. I am
usually able to create my strongest work late into the night, when I am
long past caring about the outcome. By morning when I came back to
her I was taken aback by her power to move me so unexpectedly.
I had stumbled into an unknown territory and rather than run away
from the unfamiliar sensations, I learned to embrace them and to keep
going. This new-found freedom has strengthened my work and has
facilitated conversations and indeed friendships that would never have
otherwise materialized. I am “touched with joy and ecstasy” at this
new revelation and eager to discover where my “explorations” will take
“The Presence of Evil” was painted in August 2001, anticipating 9/11 by one month, after a year of exploring the title theme in printmaking. Dark clouds in a flaming sky seem to form an ominous face hovering over a blackened island and one aflame in the general shape of Manhattan.
“Assault” incorporates disparate but related imagery and narratives: bullet holes, breast nipples, and a formal, even monumental, presentation suggesting that when assaults and gun violence are the accepted norm, they have become institutionalized.
“What’s the Point?” hints at the frustrating conflicts that arise from the process of total improvisation, being sensitive to the interplay between design elements and principles and the unconscious emergence of a narrative context.
“Mood Indigo” is the direct result of total improvisation while listening to jazz, in this case, Duke Ellington’s haunting masterpiece by the same name.
The end of 2015 found me facing the most difficult choice in my art career – health issues had pushed me to either find a completely different way of working or stop altogether. I chose to rethink materials and step forward into a totally different world. Out of that struggle came “Tango” – a series steeped in the joy of creativity and one that brings to light the “give and take” in the dance of life. Using materials that are normally found in a printmaking studio, in unexpected ways, “Tango” has guided me into a world of new forms, new colors, new surfaces, and a whole new artistic language. Images that once belonged to what I held before my eyes have now given way to something deeply embedded in my mind and soul.
“Tango” itself, as with all art, has begun to evolve and bring me into yet another new arena; one that looks at the role of chance in existence. “Between Chance and Fate….the Human Tongue Speaks”, is just beginning. I am looking forward to where this will take me, what new thinking will it open – In the quiet of winter, I am looking forward to discovering what I do not know.
The first image I have submitted entitled, “…ought not to have done,” is a reflection on regret and remorse. Past decisions made that can’t be changed, but linger in my soul. A sadness is born and carried through my life.
The other three images are based on the death of my mother in 2006. Waiting was started while my mother was in her final months of life, awaiting ALS to take her last breath away. Departure, with a red cardinal flying off leaving mementoes of religion and photos of love. And Memorial by the Sea telling me death is solid as a rock in its reality. Is there anything so real except for life?