Mary Blackwell-Chapman
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Artist's Statement

Personal and Cultural Memory, and the power of Story are recurrent themes in my work. How do we as individuals and as a community reflect our history? What is the place of the artist in this dance that connects the past with the present? What is the power of Story and how can Story help us find out who we are as individuals and as a culture? How is our history communicated to us?

Working in clay, I have developed series on the Goddess, Storyteller Pots, Memory Dolls, the Power of Place, 9/11 and Safety, and Endangered Animals. These coil built, oxidation fired works with slips and glazes, represent my investigation of our collective memory, the power and expressions of that memory.

My most recent series represented animals on the world endangered list - the Indian Elephant, the Clouded Leopard, the Whooping Crane, the Gaur, Przewalski’s Horse. Images reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings are carved on the surface of the figures, drawing a connection between artists and animals of years past, and contemporary artists and animals. As with shamans of old and today, one of the tasks of artists is to serve as an intermediary between her people and the beasts living around the community, connecting her group to the nature and spirit of the animal.

We are attracted to and find meaning in stories, whether they are presented verbally or visually, in linear form, or in an associative manner. In the past 18 months I have been creating watercolor/collages that are colorful glimpses of story. The collage elements are pictures and words from contemporary life and from art - scraps of paper we encounter daily, portraits found in antique stores, bits of paper that define how we live and how we frame our lives. These works have been described as “delightful, frequently humorous jewels”. These works are small and are packed with images, requiring close inspection by the viewer. She must stop, look carefully, and discover.

I have recently been using a third art form to express my interest in memory and story, the artist’s book. These books are usually sculptural and somewhat interactive, sometimes containing word, sometimes not.
For me, art is a process, a process of discovery of myself and what I believe and who I am, of reflection upon issues that are powerful and impactful in our world. It is not easy; it is work, but a work I find extremely gratifying. I love to be in the presence of art and of art making.

© 2005-2015 Mary Blackwell-Chapman. 1020 Thunderwood Farm Lane, Lewisville, NC 336•945•0363